By Jessi Leckrone, Denver Zoo Bird Keeper
This week’s feathered friend happens to be celebrating her 11th birthday this Sunday, August 24! Emerald, a hooded pitta (Pitta sordida), has lived at Denver Zoo since 2004, and hatched at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2003. She currently lives with her new mate, Oz, who joined us just a few months ago. You can distinguish between the two by the bands on their legs; Oz’s band is white, while Emerald’s is metal.
Hooded pittas have a habitat with a wide range, and can be found anywhere from Southeast Asia, to the island of New Guinea. They spend their time in forests and heavily wooded areas, which they do either alone or with a mate. You can recognize these birds by the unique sounds they make, which resemble high-pitch whistles.
Because of their vast habitat, pittas are not considered a threatened species.
Although pittas in the wild consume several types of insects and bugs such as beetles, ants, worms, snails and berries, Emerald loves crickets, mealworms, waxworms and the occasional earthworm. In addition, we give her a special diet that includes soaked dog food that is high in protein, some meat items, and a pellet designed for insectivores – birds that mainly feed on insects.
Come visit Emerald in the Jungle exhibit of Bird World, presented by Frontier Airlines. She spends most of her time on the ground, looking for tasty bugs. She blends in well with plants, so she may be a little difficult to spot, however she can recognized by some of her bright, teal-colored feathers. Be sure to search everywhere, because although they are strong fliers, pittas prefer to spend most of their time on the ground!