A rare orchid is in bloom and a breeding pair of parrots have produced their first egg at the Cayman Turtle Centre.
According to Terrestrial Exhibits Curator Geddes Hislop, the rare Cayman ghost orchid recently opened its blossom at the Blue Hole on the Turtle Centre’s Nature Trail.
“The last time this orchid bloomed was briefly in April 2015 before a big rainstorm knocked the flower off the plant only a couple of days after it opened,” said Mr. Hislop.
“The ghost orchid blooms roughly every other year, and the only other location where sighting of one of Cayman’s rarest flowers is accessible to the public is at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.”
In another development, on May 10 the center’s primary breeding pair of Cayman parrots Sweetpea and Leo produced their first egg this season.
“Aviary staff have been monitoring their progress via a nest cam installed over a month ago,” said Mr. Hislop. “This technology enables aviary staff to now keep accurate records of the nesting and rearing of our endemic Cayman parrots in a more professional and noninvasive manner. We are looking forward to Sweetpea laying two or three more eggs over the next few days.”
Mr. Hislop said a link to the webcam will soon be accessible via the center’s website to follow Sweetpea and Leo as they raise their brood.
In other news, since early March, the center’s two peacocks, Big Blue and Snowflake, have regrown their full display trains, which they like to show off in the cool hours of the mornings and late afternoons.
In mid-April, one of the peahens hatched four peachicks fathered by Big Blue after laying a clutch on Blue Peacock Island in mid-March. The little brown peachicks can be spotted following their mother around the island. The mother tends to move between islands, and the little peachicks were able to fly within a couple of days of hatching to follow her across.
At the center’s Caribbean Aviary, Mr. Hislop said, the white-crowned pigeons, white-winged doves, bananaquits and Cayman parrots are all in breeding mode. A number of nests have already produced chicks and some had raised at least two clutches by the end of April. Mr. Hislop said that even the two male scarlet ibis and single male white ibis have taken to the trees to start nest-building.
“For the scarlets, we do have the two female ibis we had acquired late last summer … for them to pair with, but even though these hen ibis are proven breeders, they unfortunately cannot fly, so terrestrial staff will have to come up with a strategy for the flighted males and flightless females to come to a happy union and use a nesting site that works for both,” said Mr. Hislop.
Meanwhile, the center’s juvenile captive-bred Cayman parrot “triplets,” hatched in mid-May 2016, have almost completed their quarantine and pre-release protocols and are ready for wild release.