The Smithsonian National Zoo's Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA., is celebrating the recent hatching of two Micronesian kingfisher (Todiramphus c. cinnamominus) chicks, a female and male, on July 25 and Aug. 20, respectively.This species has been extinct in the wild for more than 20 years. They are extremely difficult to breed due to incompatibility between males and females and the inability of some parents to successfully raise their own chicks. But these two bring the total population of Micronesian kingfishers to 131 birds.
“We are encouraged that this pair showed an interest in one another and delighted that they produced fertile eggs,” said Warren Lynch, bird unit manager at SCBI. “We are hand-rearing the chicks, which involves feeding them at two-hour intervals, seven to eight times per day. Should the adults produce fertile eggs again, we will likely let them try to raise the chicks themselves while closely monitoring their parenting skills.”
Both chicks are thriving. The female flies short distances and is increasingly confident and vocal, and the male is beginning to grow feathers and has a healthy appetite for crickets, mice and small lizards.
Micronesian kingfishers are about 6 inches tall and have wide, dorsoventrally-flattened bills. Both sexes have a plume of blue-green feathers on their wings and brown-orange feathers on their heads. Males can be easily identified by their brown-orange breasts and females by their white breasts.