Rare Micronesian Kingfishers Hatch at the Smithsonian
by Danielle Venton
Two critically endangered Micronesian kingfishers, among the rarest animals in the world, hatched recently at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. These new chicks, a female hatched July 25 and a male hatched Aug. 20, boost the total world population to 131. The chicks are hand-reared, fed at two hour intervals, seven to eight times a day.
Extinct in the wild for more than 20 years, Micronesian kingfishers are difficult to breed in captivity. Male and female birds can be reluctant to bond. Not all parents are able to successfully rear their offspring, and their health can be delicate. A third chick hatched at the Institute’s Bird House on Sept. 3 died two days later of unknown causes.
Micronesian kingfishers, orTodiramphus cinnamominus, were once abundant in the forests and coconut plantations of Guam. After World War II, they were hunted to near-extinction by the brown tree snake, an invasive species that reached the island stowed away in military equipment shipped from New Guinea. With no natural predators on Guam, the tree snakes annihilated the population of kingfishers and eight other bird species…