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Library plans live stream of bird birth

January 27, 2012

Khya Gilbert, 9, and Caidince Gilbert, 7, stamp the visitor’s log at the library after checking out the zebra finches’ nest.

PLYMOUTH — Templeton and Prunella, the Plymouth Public Library’s zebra finches, have decided to start a family. Prunella began laying eggs Sunday, and the proud parents-to-be are now taking turns sitting on the nest containing five small eggs.
Since the birds have been a popular attraction in the children’s room since they arrived last summer, library staff wanted to create a way for all to be able to witness the birth of the new birds. They recently decided to install a webcam to the side of the bird’s nesting box. The webcam, paid for by the Friends of the Library, will provide a live, 24/7 view inside the nest.
“Everyone has enjoyed the birds so much that we thought it would be fun to have a live stream, so people can see the babies being born,” said librarian Debbie Beck.
The webcam has been ordered, and Beck said she expects that it will be up and running in the next few weeks.
The birds are showing decidedly human characteristics as they care for their offspring, reported Beck and children’s librarian Marie Dylag.
“It was humorous to watch them build their nest,” said Beck. “They were very picky about the pieces they would use. The male would place some pieces, then stand back and let the female look at it, then they would rearrange it.”
In typical “dad” fashion, Templeton doesn’t watch the eggs as closely as Prunella.
“When it’s time for the male to sit on the eggs, she will come out, but he will take his time about going in (to the nesting box),” said Beck.
“But he brought in most of the building materials,” pointed out Dylag. “He must have been tuckered out.”
Beck also said that she has noticed the male bird displaying more protective behavior, chattering loudly when people approach the cage as if to say, “Not too close!”
Once the baby birds are born, library staff plans to auction several of them in the annual Young Adult summer reading program auction. The highest bidder will take home the bird, a cage, and a starter care kit.
The webcam and streaming capability will be used for other library programs in the future, such as the monarch butterfly display in the fall.

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