Critically Endangered Micronesian Kingfisher Hatches at National Zoo
by Smithsonian staff
The National Zoo cares for some of the rarest animals on earth, including the Micronesian kingfisher, a bird that has been extinct in the wild for more than 20 years. The Zoo is celebrating the recent hatching of a chick on May 27, 2012. This boost brings the total population of Micronesian kingfishers to over 130 birds. The National Zoo cares for about 7% of the world’s population—6 birds live at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal and 3 live at the Zoo’s Bird House.
This species is extremely difficult to breed due to incompatibility between males and females and the inability of some parents to successfully raise their own chicks. This chick hatched at the Bird House and was incubated and raised by its parents.
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 3 decades, they hunted Micronesian kingfishers and 8 other bird species to the brink of extinction...