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


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.


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!)



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. 


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.

First Ever Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Chicks Hatch in the UK

Chick in hand

Fourteen Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers were hatched in captivity at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire this week, a first for the UK and only the second flock ever to have been born in captivity. These latest chicks are part of an emergency conservation breeding mission to ensure the species against imminent extinction in the wild. Four further eggs are expected to hatch in the coming days and, if successful, will bring the total flock size to 30. The size of the flock is critical to triggering breeding behavior in the birds, which are mature enough to reproduce at two years old.

The birds were hatched from eggs taken from the tiny remaining wild population which breeds on the sub-Arctic tundra in the Russian Far East, and flown by helicopter and plane on a week-long journey via Anadyr, Moscow and Heathrow before arriving at WWT Slimbridge. The dramatic decline in Spoon-billed Sandpiper numbers was first observed in 2000. Now fewer than 100 pairs are thought to remain. Russian and international field workers travel each year to the breeding grounds in Chukotka to monitor numbers and have been critical in raising the alarm.

Although the long term decline of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is thought to have been driven by inter-tidal habitat loss in East Asia, the roots of the current problem have been identified some 5,000 miles (8,000 km) away in coastal Myanmar and Bangladesh, where the birds spend the majority of the year outside the breeding season. Bird trapping by some villagers is suspected to have driven the steep decline in numbers. Local and international conservationists have had some success in stopping this practice by helping villagers find and fund alternative livelihoods. Once these threats have been tackled, birds from the conservation breeding program will be returned to the wild to increase the remaining wild population.

Chick 1



Eggs arrive

Eggs SD
Photo Credit: Photo 1, 2: WWT/Paul Marshall, Photo 3, 4, 5, 6: WWT/Sacha Dench

Continue reading "First Ever Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Chicks Hatch in the UK" »

Meet National Zoo's Bustard and Burrowing Owl Chicks


The Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed two Kori Bustard chicks that hatched June 9 and 10. Keepers are hand-raising the chicks, which increases the likelihood that the chicks will breed successfully once they reach sexual maturity. Hand-rearing has another benefit; several wild birds of prey reside on Zoo grounds, and raising the chicks inside the Bird House eliminates the chance of conflict. The Zoo’s Nutrition department developed a specialized diet that contains pellets, crickets, peas, greens and fruit, and keepers feed the chicks every two hours between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Although the chicks will not be on exhibit until late August, Zoo visitors can see their parents at the Kori Bustard exhibit, located outside of the Bird House.

Chix 2

Also making their summer debut at the Zoo’s Bird House are two Burrowing Owl chicks, hatched on May 24. At first the chicks are helpless and their eyes are closed. By age 2½ weeks, they are able to control their body temperature and begin to emerge from their burrows to beg for food. At 3 weeks old, they begin jumping and flapping their wings, and at 4 weeks, they are able to take short flights. Visitors can easily identify the chicks by their juvenile plumage, which lacks any of the white bars and spots of the adults. Burrowing Owls are one of the smallest owl species in North America. The average adult is 10 inches in length—slightly larger than an American Robin.

Owl 1


Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo

You Must Have Been a Beautiful Victoria Crowned Pigeon Chick


On June 5, a pair of Victoria Crowned Pigeons, Violet & Ozzy, hatched a healthy chick for the first time at Colchester Zoo. The chick was first seen with its head peering out of the nest by keepers on the June 9. The chick will be tended to by both parents until it is 13 weeks old, when the chick becomes independent. 

Curator, Clive Barwick says, “Victoria Crowned Pigeons are known to be notoriously clumsy parents as both eggs and chicks have been known to be accidentally kicked out of nests! The first week after the chick hatched was very tentative, but we are glad that our young and inexperienced hen proved highly competent”.

According to the IUCN Red List the Victoria Crowned Pigeons current status in the wild is vulnerable due to hunting and logging. Colchester Zoo is proud to be part of the conservation of this species and are very pleased to have their first ever Victoria Crowned Pigeon chick. Victoria Crowned Pigeons are one of the largest pigeons in the world and are native to Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Their habitat is generally lowland forests and roosting in trees, their diet consists of fruit and seeds.

Chick 3

Photo Credit:Colchester Zoo

It's Two Tiny Roadrunner Chicks for ZooAmerica


Pennsylvania's ZooAmerica welcomed two Roadrunner chicks in June.These chicks will grow to be 20-24 inches (50-61 cm) from tail to beak and 10-12 inches (25.5-30.5 cm) tall. A large black-and-white mottled ground bird with a distinctive head crest, Roadrunners scurry across the terrain in American deserts, as depicted in the well-known Warner Bros. cartoons. It can fly, but for only short distances as its wingspan can't keep its large body in the air for long. These chicks are members of the Cuckoo family, characterized by feet with 2 forward toes and 2 behind. 

Roadrunners feed on insects, scorpions, lizards, snakes, rodents and other birds, supplementing their diet with plants in winter. Because of its lightening quickness, it can prey upon rattlesnakes. It snatches a coiled rattlesnake by the tail, cracks it like a whip and hits its head against the ground until it's dead. It swallows the snake, but often can't take in the entire length at one time. That doesn't stop the Roadrunner! It will continue to on it's way with the snake dangling from its mouth, consuming another inch or two as the snake slowly digests.


Photo Credit: ZooAmerica 

Read more about ZooAmerica's Roadrunners below the jump:

Continue reading "It's Two Tiny Roadrunner Chicks for ZooAmerica" »

Laughing Kookaburra Chick Hatches at Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo


This Easter peep laughs (or will when it is fully grown)! The chick is a Laughing Kookaburra, hatched on March 2 at Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo. The little bird has grown and changed quite a bit over the last 5 weeks. First time parents -- mom Jayke and dad Maverick -- have been very busy taking turns carrying insects and mice to the nest box to keep their youngster well fed. This is their first chick and it is thriving under their excellent care.

The parents are the zoo's only Kookaburras and were identified by the Species Survival Program (SSP) as among the most genetically valuable pairs in captivity. They are one of just six pairs in the United States recommended to produce offspring this year.  

In the wild, young Laughing Kookaburras often stay with the family to help raise their younger siblings. A spokesperson for the zoo said they hope that this youngster will get the chance to help its parents raise another brood soon. The photos below show the baby at one week, and again at five weeks.

Larger 1 wk

Chick smile

Photo Credit: Carmen Murach/Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo



Meet "Muppet", Taronga Zoo's Andean Condor Chick

Condor chick

Taronga Zoo’s bird Keepers are celebrating the hatching of a very precious Andean Condor chick. The parents, Connie and Bruce, are the only breeding pair in Australasia and their Keepers were hopeful that this breeding season the pair would produce two offspring.

To help the parents achieve this, the Bird Team incubated the first egg they laid. On the November 23, after two months of very careful monitoring and special conditions (including regular candling to check that the egg was healthy and had good vein development), a very strong chick pushed her way out of the egg, much to the delight of all!

This chick became even more of a triumph for the Zoo as the second egg, which the parents subsequently laid and incubated themselves, didn’t make it.

Taronga’s Keepers are currently hand raising the youngster who is thriving. The very curious female, who is yet being called "Muppet" in lieu of any here-to-fore official name, will eventually be a star in the QBE Free Flight Bird Show, swooping her massive wing span across the audience as she flies on to stage and educates people about her wild cousins which are threatened in the wild. 


Photo Credit: Taronga Zoo


Perth Zoo Hatches Black-winged Stilt Chicks


Four Black-winged Stilt chicks hatched at Perth Zoo in Australia at the end of November. These chicks are the first in a new generation of stilts and are part of a regional breeding program for this native Australian species.

Chicks are gray and with a sandy hue on their wings. When fully grown the will sport stark white feathers on the head, neck and belly while the feathers on their back and wings will be black with a greenish sheen on males and a little more brown looking on females. Adults are 13-14 inches (33–36 cm) long, with their distinctive pink legs making up about 60 % of their height which gives them an advantage in deeper waters over other wader birds (hence the name).

Black-winged Stilts can be found on the shores of large, inland water bodies and coastal habitats. They breed in freshwater or brackish (slightly salty) wetlands with a sand, mud or clay bed. While they are not currently considered endangered, they can be threatened by climate change and continued destruction of wetlands by man.




Photo Credits: Perth Zoo

Two Fluffy Flamingo Chicks Hand Raised in Johannesburg


Every spring in South Africa, Johannesburg Zoo’s flock of flamingos gets busy with preparations for their new chicks. Flamingos start laying eggs around September & October, after carefully building raised nests from mud in their enclosure. Weeks before breeding season starts keepers provide clay-like substrate to the enclosure for the birds to build with. Initially the clay is kept wet once a week to ensure nest stay moist and keep their shape.

Unfortunately, the hen sometimes makes the mistake of laying an egg on the grass or the egg may roll off the nest. For those eggs abandoned by the parents’ zookeepers collect and incubate them for 28 to 30 days in the hope that the chicks will hatch and survive. This is no easy task as the eggs need very specific conditions of 99.5 degrees (37.5 degrees celcius) and 75% humidity to grow.

The first egg laid this season unfortunately rolled off of the nest and was collected by birdkeeper, Elaine Bratt. It was incubated from September 22, and to Elaine’s delight a little chick hatched on October 20! Named Nu, it is the first official flamingo chick of 2011 and is being cared for around the clock, just as its parents would do. Nu was joined by Kuba on November 8. The two live in the zoo’s bird rearing facility called “The Brooder Room”. Each has its own room with a heat lamp to keep the temperature constant. The chicks are fed every 2 to 3 hours a special diet of sardines, shrimp, boiled egg, maize meal, calcium and multi-vitamins.



With adults

Photo Credits: Photos 1-2 Lorna Fuller, Photos 3-4 Candice Segal/Joburg Zoo

Continue reading "Two Fluffy Flamingo Chicks Hand Raised in Johannesburg" »

Three Wee Kiwi - A First in North America

Kiwi #3

A third Kiwi chick hatched at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Jul. 17, marking the first time an institution in North America has successfully hatched three kiwi in one year. The Columbus Zoo’s first hatching of the North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) occurred less than four months ago on March 23, while the second hatched on June 25, 2011.

This newest little chick, a female, is currently being cared for behind-the-scenes. The first two chicks are both males and have been given names reflecting their native New Zealand; “Ariki” (ah-ree-kee), meaning first-born or chie,f and “Toa” (to-ah) meaning warrior. The oldest of the chicks, Ariki, can be seen in the Zoo’s Roadhouse nocturnal habitat for a few hours each day.

Only seven kiwis, including the three at the Columbus Zoo, have hatched in the past five years in North America. The Columbus Zoo is only the third zoo in North America to successfully hatch a kiwi chick since the first one hatched at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 1975. There are now six kiwis at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and a total of 22 kiwis in three United States zoos.

 3 Kiwi 78 - G. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Yello Kiwi 71- G. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Photo Credit: Grahm Jones/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Continue reading "Three Wee Kiwi - A First in North America" »