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Project Title: Attachment at the Jurong Bird Park - Education Department Organisation: Wildlife Reserves Singapore - Jurong Bird Park Mentors: Amberly, Pei Ying Group members: Zi Hang, Darius

Brief description of the project:

1) Making toys for the cockatoos 2) Cleaning of exhibits at the Bird Discovery Centre 3) Helping out in an education programme held at the Bird Park & at Pats School House 4) Sort out the specimens of the BOP (Birds of prey), including their skulls, feathers and feet 5) Dissect owl pellets 6) Observe the eating habits of the cockatoos 7) Helping out in an education programme held at the Bird Park & at Pats School House 8) Attend a drama workshop at the Singapore Zoo

How we went about completing the tasks!

1) Making toys for the cockatoos
We had to spend quite a bit of time researching on the materials that were suitable for the birds, as majority of the materials we find around us are toxic for them, to name a few - yarn, glue and treated wood.

Toy that we made for the birds

Firstly, we made a few holes in the cardboard roll as a number of websites suggested doing so, and then leaving a few nuts or seeds in the roll, so as to entice the bird into chewing off the wood, before being able to reach the little treats inside. Soon after completing the toy, we started having the hunch that the holes that we had cut were a tad too big and the bird might not even require sparing any effort in destroying the wood. However, by the time the toys we made went into the exhibit, our attachment was nearing the end, so if any one of you do visit the Jurong Bird Park please do pay a visit to the temporary Parrots playground in the Bird Discovery Centre and tell us if the toys we made worked!

4) Sort out the specimens of the BOP (Birds of prey), including their skulls, feathers, and feet

It was a unique and enriching experience as we got the privilege to go behind-the-scenes and we were wowed by the vast array of egg and feather collections, as well as the wellpreserved specimens. As a matter of fact, we learnt the importance of teamwork and orderliness in the sense that the photos and dimensions might be jumbled up in the process. In addition, we also had to think of a way that could maximise the time that we had on our hands for full efficiency, so we split the workload, one to take the pictures and measuring the dimensions, then uploading them onto the laptop, while the other would resize the photos and key the dimensions into Excel. It was rather tedious, but it was fun and we enjoyed every minute of it!

5) Dissecting owl pellets

Owls digest their meals by separating the softer materials (such as meat) from the harder materials (such as bones). So, owl pellets are actually indigestible items such as feathers and fur (In the form of a pellet) that owls regurgitate the harder material along with.

Owl pellets

Fur of rodents

We were apprehensive at first because of the pungent stench but we went for it and challenged ourselves and started tearing the pellets apart. Then we started separating the fur from the bones, and continued doing it for about 5 more pellets, before categorising them into their respective categories (Skulls, hip bones, ribs, etc). Then came the problem, the bones in the respective categories somehow looked like spitting images of one another and it was tough to sort the bones once more (Into rodents, shrews and moles, no birds since the Jurong Bird Park does not feed their owls with birds). However, as time was running short, we merely washed the bones and left them to dry.

Skull of a rodent

Classifying the bones!

5) Observe the eating habits of the cockatoos

It is intriguing and fascinating as to how the cockatoos actually consume the various types of food that they are served. For instance, Waka would stick his head into the food tray and start foraging for his favourite corn, at the same time inadvertently knocking some seeds out of the tray.

Waka, the Solomans cockatoo

Wakas food

Zuris food Zuri, on the other hand, would gracefully tear the long beans apart while he pushes the contents inside into his mouth with the help of his long tongue. As for papayas, Zuri would use his knifelike beak to tear the huge blocks into tiny little chunks, before tossing them into his mouth. Interesting isnt it? Getting up-close with the cockatoos has been such an amazing privilege for us and we wouldnt want it any other way than to spend every morning paying a visit to them!

6) Helping out in an education programme held at the Bird Park and at Pats Schoolhouse
We visited Pats schoolhouse at Meyer Road for the Bird Park flies to school programme. This programme aims to educate preschoolers about the interesting facts about birds. We brought along many specimens, such as that of a hyacinth macaw, a mandarin duck and a lesser bird of paradise. In the lower picture on the left, the preschoolers were given the opportunity to stand on a real ostrich egg, to prove that it can take their weight. A live palm cockatoo, Zuri, was brought along and the preschoolers were allowed to stroke her before leaving. This experience has allowed me to realise that there is much more to being an education executive, and that educating from a young age is extremely important.

The pictures on the left show Compassvale Secondary School visiting the Bird Park for training for a programme known as Wildlife Buddies. This programme trains students at certain specific exhibits and build up their knowledge so they will be able to bring their buddies around the exhibits. In this particular programme, the students were trained in two specific exhibits, Dino Descendants and Penguin Coast. Although my job was just to usher them around the park, I myself listened in closely to the lessons and learnt a great deal about those two exhibits. When I took the same test that the trainees took at the end of the two day course, I obtained a score of 39/40. As mentioned before, education from a young age is vital in order to instill a mindset with wildlife conservation in mind, a mindset that is extremely important for everyone should we want our planet to survive.

7) Attend a drama workshop at the Singapore Zoo

This is the first time we did something that has nothing to do with animals. However, this drama workshop, conducted for all education staff at Wildlife Reserves Singapore, is essential for education staff as they need to understand how to grasp the attention of the audience, among other things, when they are educating others regarding the conservation of wildlife.

It was a very different experience from what we had experienced before. It reminded us that being part of the education team is not all about knowledge of content, but equally important is how you point is being brought forward. Miscellaneous Here are some miscellaneous thought and picture that I have about the Jurong Bird Park. Jurong Bird Park Panorail: Personally I am someone who loves rail transport and after hearing the news that the JBP Panorail would soon be phased out to make way for the tram system, I was devastated and confused at the same time. When I asked why the panorail system was about to be phased out, my mentors cited high operational and maintenance costs. I found this unacceptable; hence, I visited the library to dig through the archives to find more information about the panorail system. After doing a fair amount of research, I found out the reasons why the panorail was built in the first place and the history behind it. The Jurong Bird Park panorail system began operations in 1991, after twenty years of using the outdated tram system as the primary means of transport within the park. The trams were slow, noisy, and diesel driven, causing a lot of carbon to be emitted from its exhaust. In addition, the trams provided little protection from the sun and rain. The panorail was built to solve all these problems, being an environmentally friendly, air-conditioned, quiet means of transport. It was clear from the old newspaper articles and brochures that I found that the staffs of the Bird Park were very proud of what they had managed to come up with. The panorail is indeed a great addition to the Bird Park and phasing this system out to make way for the tram system is just taking a step back, a step away from progress.

Hornbills: After spending close to a month at the Jurong Bird Park, I have arrived at the conclusion that one of my favourite birds is the hornbill. Hornbills are birds which are many a time brightly coloured and have a distinctive casque on their heads, with their colour and size differing from species to species. This is a great pied hornbill, a large hornbill with a distinctive bright yellow beak and casque found throughout the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. This is one of my favourite hornbills. Another one of my favourite is the rhinoceros hornbill, another large hornbill with an upward bending casque, resembling the horn of a rhinoceros, hence its name. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a picture of the rhinoceros hornbill.

This is a photograph of a great pied hornbill snatching a piece of papaya in mid-air. This was taken during the Birds n Buddies Show, one of the two shows at the Juring Bird Park.

Palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) Overview: To date, four subspecies have been identified: Probocisger aterrimus aterrimus Probocisger aterrimus goliath Probocisger aterrimus stenolophus Probocisger aterrimus macgillivrayi

The palm cockatoo is the largest of all species of cockatoos. Palm cockatoos may grow up to 60 centimetres in length and weigh up to 1200 grams. They are identified by their entirely greyish black plumage, large size, and pink or red cheek patches. They have a large, curved black beak that is, of all parrots, second in size only to that of the hyacinth macaw. Palm cockatoos also sport a red tongue which is black-tipped. Their crest, like other cockatoos, consists of a row of long, narrow feathers. Unlike most other parrots, the upper and lower mandibles of the beak to not meet each other when the beak is closed. Females are generally slightly smaller in size than males. The red cheek patches on the cockatoo is a sign of health. A healthy bird will have deep red cheeks while pale pink cheeks indicate poor health. Habitat:

Palm cockatoos are classified as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List. The can be found in abundance in the upper canopies of the forests of northern Australia, the island of New Guinea and its surrounding islands. They live in tree hollows large enough to accommodate their body size. Diet: Its diet in the wild includes a wide variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, leaf buds and berries. They do not ignore the larvae of wood beetle either. Their strong beaks enable them to crack open nuts with hard shells whilst utilising their feet to maneuvre the nut. Keeping in captivity: Palm cockatoos are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity due to its restricted and specific diet. However, some of its recommended pet foods include commercially available seeds, peas, and sunflower corn. This should be coupled with bird-safe fruits and vegetables as well as pellets. Adding to the difficulty of keeping a palm cockatoo in captivity is the very size of it. Keeping it in a cage large enough may not be easy and suitable toys must be placed within the cage. Bird-safe crewing wooden blocks may be placed in the cage for the cockatoo to chew on. Behaviour: Palm cockatoos generally have a gentle disposition and rarely bites human handlers. It raises its elongated crest feathers when excited or alarmed, exposing its crimson cheek patches. They are among the most affectionate cockatoos although they require a great deal of attention. Though not as loud as many other cockatoos, they can get noisy if inadequate attention is given. They should be let out of their cage at least a couple of hours each day for them stretch its muscles. However, they must be kept under a watchful eye as their inquisitive nature may land them in unwanted trouble. Common ailments: One of the common diseases contracted by the palm cockatoo is known as psittacosis. It is a disease carried my many birds, including cockatoos. Psittacosis is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydophilia psittaci. Symptoms of the disease may be unnoticeable but severe. Some of the preliminary symptoms may include intermittent shedding and inflamed eyes. Confirmation of the disease may be diagnosed using antigens and antibodies. Tay Zi Hang References: 0of%20Stunting%20in%20Handfed%20Psittacines.pdf THE WORLD OF COCKATOOS, Karl Diefenbach, 1985, T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Ltd. Parrots, their care and breeding, 1990

Solomans Cockatoo

Natural diet in the wild - Grains, fruits, nuts, insects, berries - Attracted by corn and grain fields -> Cause considerable damage to fruit orchards - Dig for sweet potatoes in fields Diet in captivity - Formulated (pelleted or extruded diet) -> Kaytee Exact is an excellent staple diet + fresh fruits + vegetables daily to add variety and psychological enrichment. -> cup of Kaytee Exact and cup of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. - Vitamin supplements are required for birds that are not eating a formulated diet. - Mealworms, hard-boiled eggs -> add protein to diet - Sweetcorn on the cob, broccoli, wheat, oats, millet, carrots Behaviours - Wary and shy by nature - Become fearful if they have a traumatic experience - Males can be aggressive towards the females -> Clipping the wings of the male prior to the breeding season will help the female to escape in case the male becomes aggressive (may occur in compatible breeding pairs) - One or more traumatic experiences -> feather picking -> look through past history (birds diet, type of housing, typical toys and exposure to other animals) -> Not draw attention to their feather picking

Other information - Loyal, intelligent, inquisitive birds - Closely resemble Goffins cockatoo - Males are larger than females -> Larger beaks and heads - Should not be allowed unsupervised freedom as they often encounter toxins or dangerous items

- Young cockatoos should be socialized and exposed to various situations (new cages, toys, visits to the veterinarian, handling by friends, wing and nail clips) so they wont be afraid when they encounter fresh experiences - Need some space for flight in captivity - Routine bathing, dried with blow dryer - Many adept at opening cage latches, as they have powerful beaks, so proper caging is important - Need plenty of interaction -> Mental stimulation - Excessive chewing (Keeps beak in good condition) -> Provide plenty of chewing opportunities - Biting their least favourite humans -> Competitor of human mates affection - Positive reward System Giving it the desired food How to recognize their emotions from their behaviours Comfort Feathers on head slightly fluffed Bird may preen, stretch and gently play with toy or object Vocalizing (Not screaming!) Rouse (Puffs all of its feathers, shakes them) Shake its tail feathers on occasion/flicks wings on back Curiosity Keeps body away from object while it cranes neck to inspect the object Aggression Fear aggression Afraid and no escape route Personal aggression Bonds to specifically one person, and shows aggression to other members -> Feathers puffed up on head and shoulders, wings slightly away from body, mouth open wider than usual, pupils dilate and retract (Eye pinning) Excitement Eye pinning, vocalizations, tail fanning, raise crests and stand up tall Moving quicker than usual Fear/nervousness Feathers slicked back tight to body Eyes darting, looking for escape path Move away from what is making it nervous Sick Mask symptoms of illness instinctively, as a sick bird will fall prey to predators easily Fluffed up feathers, labored breathing, noises made while breathing, eyes partially closed, sleeping more than usual, less active than usual Shit is loose and watery, bright green/brown/black/yellow/orange -> Digestive disorder Hot Breathe in and out of mouth to cool off Might hang head a little and close eyes, breathing heavily Tired Tuck head over shoulder onto wing Eyelids look heavy, blinking eyes often and slowly

Suitable toys (Natural) - Blocks of wood or branches that they can chew Sources - - - - - - - Parrots as Pets (A Beginners Guide) Lesley Layton - Good Bird! Barbara Heidenreich Darius Tan