Hatching of Guam Kingfisher Chicks at National Aviary Boosts Population of Species Now Extinct in the Wild


08/26/2016

August 25, 2016 (Pittsburgh, PA) –  Two of the rarest species of birds in the world have hatched at the National Aviary.  Guam Kingfisher chicks, a female, hatched May 22, and a second, hatched July 10, sex not yet identified, have made their arrival, ticking up the number of their species remaining on planet earth by two.  Currently, less than 150 Guam Kingfishers exist, all in captivity.  The successful hatching of these chicks to two different breeding pairs marks the first time that Guam Kingfishers have been bred at the National Aviary.

Originally native only to Guam, the Guam Kingfisher is extinct in the wild due to the accidental introduction of the brown tree snake to the island in the 1940s. With numbers of these birds dwindling, in 1984, biologists at the Guam Department of Agriculture initiated an unprecedented intervention, capturing the last of the wild Guam Kingfishers and transporting them to zoos in the United States.   Today, only 145 – make that 147 – remain in the world, all in North American zoos, and at a protected breeding facility on the island of Guam. 

The juvenile female chick hatched at the National Aviary is now on exhibit for a limited time, providing a rare opportunity for the public to see a young Kingfisher up close.

For the past three decades, the National Aviary and other U.S. zoos participating in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan™ for the Guam Kingfisher have worked to manage and grow a healthy, genetically diverse population of Kingfishers in zoos.  It is hoped that in the future these magnificent birds may be reintroduced to Guam, where efforts to eradicate the brown tree snake are ongoing. 

Contact: Robin Weber, Director of Marketing & Communications, 412-258-9435