On the heels of spring’s arrival, a Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) chick hatched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo March 20, the third of its kind in the park’s history. National Zoo veterinarians examined the chick and took a blood sample when it was 4 days old, which they will use to determine its sex. Visitors can see the chick and its parents at the Crane Run, part of the Bird House’s outdoor exhibits.
Measuring 6 feet tall, the wattled crane is the largest of the six crane species that call Africa home; they are also the rarest. Although wattled cranes can be found in the wetlands of 11 countries in the sub-Saharan region, their numbers in many countries are few and continue to dwindle. Zambia contains the largest populations, with roughly 5,500 individuals. Wattled cranes are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to hunting, agricultural advancement, pest control and collisions with power lines.