Bird

Endangered Micronesian Kingfisher Hatches

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The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute rung in 2014 with the hatching of the most endangered species in its collection—a Micronesian Kingfisher— on January 1. The chick, whose sex is unknown, is the first offspring for its 8-year-old father and 2-year-old mother. This boost brings the total population of Micronesian Kingfishers to 129 birds. They are extinct in the wild.

Micronesian Kingfishers are extremely difficult to breed due to incompatibility between males and females, and the inability of some parents to successfully raise their own chicks.  Animal care staff are hand-raising the chick, which involves feeding it at two-hour intervals, seven to eight times per day.

Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo can see these critically endangered birds on exhibit in the Bird House.

Kingfisher 2Photo credits: Victoria Lake / Conservation Biology Institute

See a video of the hatchling:

 

Micronesian Kingfishers flourished in Guam’s limestone forests and coconut plantations until the arrival of the brown tree snake, an invasive species that stowed away in military equipment shipped from New Guinea after World War II. Because these reptiles had no natural predators on Guam, their numbers grew and they spread across the island quickly. Within three decades, they had hunted Micronesian Kingfishers and eight other bird species to the brink of extinction.

In 1984, Guam’s Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources captured the country’s remaining 29 Micronesian Kingfishers and sent them to zoological institutions around the globe—including the National Zoo—as a hedge against extinction. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums created a Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the birds. The SSP pairs males and females in order to maintain a genetically diverse and self-sustaining population in captivity.

As the captive population increases, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Guam’s Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources continue to look for suitable release sites in Guam. The availability of release sites continues to shrink, however, due to deforestation and human expansion. Controlling the brown snake population remains a significant challenge as well. Scientists are hopeful that initiatives for snake control and forest protection signify that the reintroduction of the Micronesian Kingfisher may soon become feasible. Additionally, field studies of a different subspecies of wild kingfishers are underway on Pohnpei, another Micronesian island, to secure essential biological information on wild populations and to test various reintroduction techniques for use on Guam.


A Victoria Crowned Pigeon Hatches at Zoo Miami

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Zoo Miami has announced its first successful hatching of a Victoria Crowned Pigeon!  The single chick hatched on November 30 after being artificially incubated in the zoo’s brooder building for 28 days. 

Victoria Crowned Pigeons are the world’s largest living pigeons, reaching a length of nearly 30 inches (76.2 cm) and weighing close to five pounds (2.27 kg).  They are one of the closest living relatives of the now extinct Dodo bird.  Found in the lowland forests of New Guinea and portions of Indonesia, these stunning birds are classified as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Species' Red List. Main threats are deforestation for logging as well as by hunting for food and their ornate feathers.  These birds are found in small flocks on the forest floor foraging for seeds, fruit and snails.  Distinguished by their ornate fan of crest feathers and deep red eyes, adults are mainly blue in color with accents of deep burgundy and small highlights of white.   

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Victoria Crowned Pigeons are monogamous birds that mate for life. The male courts the female by lowering and bobbing his head, fanning his tail, and emitting rapid booming sounds. He then brings the female sticks which she uses to construct a nest and both parents share in the incubation duties. Unlike most other birds, pigeons, both males and females, produce a special 'crop milk' which is used to feed the single chick for the first few weeks of its life. Once this chick is weaned, the hope is to introduce it into Zoo Miami’s “Wings of Asia” aviary exhibit.

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7 pigeonPhoto credit: Zoo Miami


Great Gannets! Three Healthy Chicks Hatch at Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven

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Three healthy Northern Gannet chicks hatched at Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven on the Northern coast of Germany, on May 21 and on June 5 and 18. In the early 1980s, Zoo am Meer was the first zoo to successfully breed Northern Gannets in captivity. Up until today, Bremerhaven has remained one of very few European zoos to have successful hatchings of Northern Gannet chicks almost every year.

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Photo credits: Joachim Schoene / Zoo Am Meer Bremerhaven

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the bird is listed as a species of Least Concern. Found along both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Northern Gannets are a common bird with an uncommon ability: with an adult wingspan measuring nearly six feet (175 cm), these marine birds catch shoaling fish by nose-diving from heights of up to 130 feet (40 m). In the wild they are colonial, making nests of grasses and seaweed on coastal ledges and hilltops. Colonies breed in northern France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and the eastern tip of Quebec. Pairs produce a single egg in the month of May, which is brooded with the feet for about 45 days. After five years, young Northern Gannets develop the elegant white and black plumage of mature adults.


Endangered Ornate Hawk-eagle Hatches at San Paulo Zoo

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A new Ornate Hawk-eagle hatched at Sao Paulo Zoo, on April 15. The chick is a male, and has been named Chronus by the biologists of the park. Like most birds, this species grows very fast. It was hatched weighing around 50 grams, and after just one month he weighs 10 times as much! Since the first day, the hatchling has been fed a diet of mice. At this stage of development, he's comsuming meals 3 times a day, and is expected to grow to an adult weight of close to 1000 gms.

Once fully grown, this bird will have strikingly colored plumage and piercing golden eyes  He will also develop strong muscular feet bearing long, sharp talons, used along with a sharp, hooked bill to tear the flesh and break the bones of it's prey. The Ornate Hawk-eagle is a highly endangered species in the state of Sao Paulo, and not many zoos in the world have the privilege of keeping and breeding this formidible animal.

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Photo Credit: Carlos Nader

Click here to see this fuzzy chick strengthening his legs taking wobbly steps and coming out of the incubator to get a snack. (The narratoin to the video below is in Portugese)


See more pictures after the jump:

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Wild Spoonbills Nest at Lowry Park Zoo

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There's a nest with four Roseate Spoonbill chicks at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, but these guys aren't 'on the inventory', so to speak: a pair of wild Spoonbills chose to nest right outside of the zoo's Spoonbill exhibit!

Born earlier this month, all four chicks have survived and are growing fast. At just six weeks old, the chicks will fledge and leave the nest. But for now, they're still losing their fuzzy down and starting to show their first flight feathers. Developing flight feathers are at first surrounded by a protective sheath made of keratin, which the bird eventually removes by preening, allowing the feather to continue its development. In the photos below, these new pinfeathers look a bit like plastic straws. 

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Photo credits: Lowry Park Zoo

See and learn more after the fold.

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First Condor Chick of Season at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Wesa, a two-week-old California Condor chick, hatched on February 24, 2013, making this chick the first of the season at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Wesa has maintained a healthy weight and has quite an appetite according to keepers, eating up to 15 mice daily.

Ron Webb, a San Diego Zoo Safari Park senior Condor keeper, has been monitoring Wesa closely and has been puppet rearing the chick as part of preparing Wesa to be released into the wild one day.

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Photo credits: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

"The puppet is like a fancy glove," said Rob Webb, senior Condor keeper, "It covers our hands so the chick does not get any beneficial experiences from people. We do not want it imprinting on people or getting used to us when it goes out into the wild.  We want it to be a nice, wild animal, not relying on people for food."

Wesa is a part of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's highly successful California Condor breeding program.  Since the California Condor Recovery Program began in the 1980s, when there were only 22 condors left in the world, the Safari Park has hatched 173 chicks and released more than 80 birds into the wild. Today, there are over 400 condors, half of which are flying free at release sites in Baja California, Mexico, California and Arizona.


Endangered Harpy Eagle Mom Shares a Sneak Peek of Her Hatchling

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It is with great pride that Zoo Miami officially announces the hatching of an endangered Harpy Eagle! Here are several images that Ron Magill was extremely fortunate to capture friday morning (after patiently waiting over 3 ½ hours for the mother to allow him a view!) of the chick being fed by its mother. In addition, we’ve included two images that Ron was able to take of the chick when it was only 9 days old so you can see how much it has grown in 3 weeks.

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Photo credits: Ron Magill / Zoo Miami

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Tawny Frogmouth Chicks Are Not Impressed.

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On July 9th and 11th, the Brookfield Zoo welcomed two Tawny Frogmouth chicks. Often mistaken for owls, these Australian birds also hunt at night, but prefer to relax and let their prey come to them, sometimes literally waiting for insects to crawl onto their feathers before snacking.

For reasons unknown, these chicks' parents—Eunice, who is on loan from Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina, and Gullet, who is from SeaWorld Orlando—abandoned the nest about halfway during the incubation period. To give the unborn chicks a chance at life, staff pulled the eggs and placed them in an incubator. Once the eggs hatched, they received round-the-clock care. Now at 3 weeks old, they have grown, are eating well, and appear to have a bright future ahead of them.

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The pairing of the adults was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tawny Frogmouth Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Until the chicks are a little older, they will remain off exhibit while being cared for by Animal Programs staff. Guests are able to see the adult pair in the zoo’s Feathers and Scales building. The species is monogamous.

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More info below the fold

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Portly Penguin Chicks Waddle into Tennessee

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Tennessee Aquarium aviculturists (bird keepers!) have their hands full caring for a pair of Macaroni Penguin chicks. “These baby penguins are absolutely adorable with fuzzy flippers, oversized feet and pudgy little bellies,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “They are portly, but that’s great. We like to see vocal chicks that spend a good part of their day begging their parents for food.”

The first baby was born on May 24th to parents Hercules and Shamrock. This is their first chick at the Aquarium and the parents appear to be very diligent, although they don’t share the same duties. “Hercules is the protector. He only feeds the chick about 10 percent of the time,” said aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich. “But he is constantly watching over the baby even when mom is in the nest.” Fortunately, Aldrich says Shamrock really has a strong feeding instinct that more than satisfies a very vocal, and very hungry chick. “Normally chicks will beg and beg for food, but I’ve actually seen her feed this chick so full that he just stops begging,” said Aldrich. “He’s like, I’ve had enough.” Aquarium guests can see this baby penguin near the center of the exhibit inside an acrylic “playpen” which keeps it from accidently going into the water before it grows large enough to do so safely.

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Paulie and Chaos, the Macaroni pair that successfully raised “Pepper” - the Aquarium’s first-ever baby penguin, are in a backup area with their chick. Paulie was involved in a scuffle with at least one other male early in the breeding season. “Aggressive behavior among males is not uncommon while they are building nests, so this couple was moved to a backup area for what was supposed to be a short time,” said Aldrich. “But when Chaos laid her second egg in this backup area, we decided they were comfortable enough to stay there until we saw what would happen with the egg. Now it looks like they’ll stay here until this chick is big enough to go on exhibit.” Both of the parents get time with the rest of the colony to swim and then they head back to feed and tend to their chick. As proven parents, they continue to feed this chick well.

Macaroni Penguin Chicks at Tennessee Aquarium 2Senior aviculturist Amy Graves and aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich hold the Tennessee Aquarium’s two new macaroni penguin babies

Keepers will continue to monitor the progress of both chicks closely as there are still many potential pitfalls for young birds to overcome. But if they continue to progress as quickly as they’ve started, Aquarium guests might see them outside the nests in a few weeks. “We’ll begin supervised walkabouts with the other penguins when their swim feathers grow in,” said Graves. “But even then we’ll have to see how the other birds react to the newcomers.”


Hüwi the Little Owl Makes a Friend

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Meet Linton Zoo's newest and fluffiest little addition: a Turkmenian Eagle Owlet named Hüwi, which is Turkmen for “Eagle owl.” When keepers noticed that Hüwi's owl mom, named Rohan, wasn't quite as attentive as she should be, they stepped in to hand-rear the chick. In addition to the human care, the Linton Zoo's gentle resident tabby, Arnie, has also stepped in to befriend the chick, who appears cautiously curious (more on Arnie at the bottom). Weighing just 50 grams (<2 ounces) at birth, three weeks later the chick weighs a healthy, and hefty, full kilo (2.2lbs). 

The Turkmenian Eagle Owl is one of the largest owls in the world, eventually reaching around 4.5kg (10lbs) and is closely related to the slightly larger European Eagle Owl. Sadly, this spectacular bird may now be extinct in its native range in Central Asia. Very few pure bred birds remain in captivity so Hüwi is an invaluable addition to the survival of this species.

Hello you! Arnie the Ginger Tom says hello to his friend

Arnie and Hüwi spot something interesting in the grass. What u looking at!

Both of Hüwi's parents were also hatched at Linton Zoo. Dad, Pip, will be 23 years old this year and Rohan is now 5. Two of last years owlets, Igor and Misha, remain at Linton Zoo and a third brother has gone to live at Woburn Wild Animal Park. 

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