Our Brolga, Billy is still very much enjoying her walks around the zoo. The thing she enjoys more than anything else though is when she can forage for grubs and other insects, which comprises part of her wild diet. Funnily enough, we sometimes thinks she enjoys it a little too much, as her trainers have on occasion had to ask her more than once to continue her walk ... especially if she has a show to star in!
If you eat insects the zoo is an all-you-can-eat buffet. Under every rock, by every log, and in every pile of leaves is a five-star course just waiting to be had. This is what Billy has come to look for whilst exploring the zoo. Today, myself and Billy spent 20-minutes on the lawns by the Bird Show theatre prior to getting ready for the show itself. There is a small garden there that is multi-tiered, so as a form of exercise and to challenge Billy we were doing our own little step-up class, stepping up and down the various levels of the garden. If you’re anything like me though food always wins out over exercise, and after a couple of repetitions Billy spotted a jackpot.
The next 10-minutes saw Billy engrossed in the mulch that covered the garden bed. She used her pointed beak to probe into the ground, and was not disappointed. She kept scouring over each spot, turning the soil, and came away a very happy girl. I had to laugh as in doing so she was helping our horticultural staff ensure the soil was aerated.
The difficult part was getting Billy to leave her treasure trove of creepy-crawlies to come and get ready for the show. It took me asking a couple of times, but eventually Billy decided the show was a good idea. At no point did I want to rush Billy, I just kept giving her the opportunity every now and then, and when she decided it was show time, I just gave her a reward to say thanks. Positive reinforcement works a treat!
By Brendan Host - Bird Show Keeper