Hunted to near extinction by the invasive brown tree snake on the Pacific Ocean Island Guam, the Micronesian kingfisher exists today only in captivity. The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago was excited to announce today that the world population of this bird was boosted with a successful hatching on June 2.
Photo of Micronesian kingfisher courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo
A Guam Micronesian kingfisher–a critically endangered bird that has become extinct in the wild–hatched at Chicago’s Lincoln park Zoo earlier this month.
“There are only approximately 100 individuals left in the world and reside within accredited North American zoos and a facility operated by the Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources as part of the Species Survival Program,” the zoo said in a statement accompanying images released to the media.
The kingfisher chick, which has yet to be sexed or named, is developing tiny pin feathers and a darkened beak, the zoo added.
“Kingfishers use their beaks to drill holes into trees and rotting wood to create their nests. Males and females work together to hollow out their nest and they develop a stronger bond through the teamwork.”
The Guam Micronesian kingfisher was once widespread on the island of Guam, but was hunted to near extinction by the invasive brown tree snake. (Read the related blog entry Snake Plague on Guam Impacts Trees.)
The last individual birds were removed from the island and placed in a recovery breeding program. The goal of the program is to one day return kingfishers to their native home once the snakes have been eradicated, Lincoln park Zoo said.
Illustration of Guam’s Micronesian Kingfisher courtesy USGS
Lincoln Park Zoo is an active participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums‘ Species Survival plan to help preserve the species.