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Following the Growth of the Sunbittern, a Rare Chick Hatched at Woodland Park Zoo

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Growing more elegant each day, this Sunbittern chick is the first of its kind hatched at Woodland Park Zoo (on November 20) in nearly 15 years. This chick was photographed from one to nine days old to show its progress. At one day old, the chick is covered in fluffy down feathers. Adult feathers begin to grow in after 3 weeks.

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Zoo staff regularly weighs the chick to keep track of its growth and make sure it is hitting all of its developmental benchmarks. At its latest weigh-in, it added up to about 3 ounces (90 grams).The chick rests on a nesting structure atop the scale, with a craggy texture designed to make it easy for the bird to grip with its feet. (And yes, it does look like a plate of worms!)

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The call of the sunbittern is one of the most recognizable sounds in the rain forest exhibit. This little chick isn’t very vocal so far, though it does hiss a bit when it’s surprised. The sunbittern has large feet that spread the bird’s weight making it easier to walk on muddy rain forest terrain. 

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Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Seen here at 9 days old, the Sunbittern’s characteristic long neck begins to distinguish itself. Note the long legs—a forest floor walker with a slow and deliberate gait—already growing in at 9 days old.

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