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African pygmy falcon chicks hatch at Franklin Park Zoo

Boston, Mass. – Since the hatches of two African pygmy falcon chicks, the staff at Franklin Park Zoo has been busy with regular feedings and care of the tiny birds.

While Zoo New England’s animal management and veterinary staff prefer to have baby animals raised by their mothers, as they would be in the wild, these chicks are being hand-reared by zoo staff to ensure their survival. Because the chicks’ parents are first-time parents and their incubation behavior was determined unskilled for successful hatching, the eggs were removed from the nest for artificial incubation. Likewise, the parents have no parental rearing skills and placing newly hatched chicks back in the nest is risky. Therefore, staff decided to intervene and hand-rear the chicks, who hatched on February 3 and 8, 2014.

Raising African pygmy falcon chicks requires a lot of attentive care. Throughout the first week after hatching, the dedicated staff carefully fed the small birds six to seven times a day. Each week the feedings decrease. By 24 to 26 days old, the birds typically become self feeders. At this time, the chicks are about the same size as an American robin.

“It takes a very dedicated effort to raise these tiny falcons,” said Fred Beall, Zoo New England General Curator. “We have had great success with this species at Franklin Park Zoo and are one of only a few zoos in North America that is successfully breeding African pygmy falcons. These hatches are a real reason to celebrate.”

Franklin Park Zoo has exhibited African pygmy falcons since 1999. The chicks are the offspring of a female that hatched at Franklin Park Zoo in 2012.

African pygmy falcons are small raptors native to the arid and semi-arid grasslands of eastern and southern Africa. These birds, which can weigh 54 to 90 grams full-grown, are among the smallest of the falcon species. They are common in their native range and are not known to migrate - their range is determined by the availability of weaver nests used to roost and nest in.


Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.