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By Jennifer Nixon, Denver Zoo Bird Keeper
We’re excited to announce this week’s feathered friend, who happens to be a relatively new addition to Denver Zoo: Leo, a scarlet-faced liocichla (Liocichla ripponi).
Leo arrived at the Zoo in the beginning of April, with his brother. After completing a mandatory quarantine period, they were both introduced to the females living in the Tropical Jungle of Bird World, sponsored by Frontier Airlines. Leo and his brother were placed in separate enclosures on opposite sides of the exhibit, so that the females could express who they were attracted to. This method is known as “mate selection,” which increases the chance that the pairing will be successful.
Once the females had declared their intentions, Leo and his girlfriend were moved into a permanent home in the Rainforest room. As of right now, things are going very well for the new couple. They have built a sturdy looking nest in the canopy, and keepers are eagerly waiting for them to start sitting in the nest consistently. This is a very good sign there may be eggs in the nest. Since this is the first year for Leo and his mate, we will have to wait patiently to see if they produce any offspring. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!
Scarlet-faced liocichlas are native to Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and southern China. They were once known as a subspecies of the Red-faced liocichla, but have recently been split into their own species. They are known for living in forests, bamboo jungles, ravines and near swamps. They commonly eat insects, fruit and seeds. Leo’s favorite is a waxworm, which is a moth larvae that’s high in protein and fat.
With a very beautiful and endearing personality, Leo has become a favorite among the keeper staff. Though he is rather small, Leo is very curious, bold and flashy when he moves around the room. He can often be seen hopping around on the ground or in the low branches. Come visit him in the Rainforest room of Bird World!