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Kingfisher Extinct In Wild, Rare Ducks Among Slew Of New Hatchlings At Zoo

By Ted Cox | August 10, 2017 3:17pm
 Lincoln Park Zoo has hatched a set of Baer's pochard ducklings.
Lincoln Park Zoo has hatched a set of Baer's pochard ducklings.
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Lincoln Park Zoo/Chris Bijalba

LINCOLN PARK — Make way for ducklings! And the rarer the bird the better.

Lincoln Park Zoo announced Thursday that it had hatched its first three Baer's pochard chicks. Named after Estonian naturalist Karl Ernst von Baer, the diving duck is native to the wetlands of eastern Asia.

The sex of the chicks, hatched July 29, is yet to be determined, but they're being hand-reared by zookeepers behind the scenes in the Bird House. Four adult Baer's pochards can be seen in the Bird House wetlands exhibit daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

"These chicks are a huge success story for the Baer’s pochard species, which is critically endangered in the wild due to hunting and habitat loss,” said Curator of Birds Sunny Nelson. “We’re excited to work closely with other zoos and aquariums to provide a future for this species and encourage guests to stop by to learn more about these birds."

On that note, the zoo scored another coup with the May 29 hatching of a male Guam Micronesian kingfisher, also announced Thursday. That species is actually extinct in the wild, after the introduction of the brown tree snake to Guam, and only about 100 remain in captivity in zoos around the world. The new chick is living independently, but is also behind the scenes in the Bird House.

But another set of new zoo deliveries figures to soon be on prominent display — and will stand out in the Waterfowl Lagoon. Several Chilean flamingo chicks have hatched since July 5, with other eggs still in incubation. They too are being hand-reared behind the scenes, but will soon be on intermittent display with the rest of the adult flock.

Chilean flamingos hatch with white-gray plumage and don't turn their distinctive pink until they're about 2 years old. "Chilean flamingos are native to Peru, Brazil and Argentina and live in large flocks," the zoo reported in Thursday's news release. They "can occupy habitats ranging from sea level up to 14,000 feet in the Andes. Their ability to tolerate extreme conditions makes them well-suited for Chicago’s harsh winters."

All were products of Species Survival Plans used by zoos around the world to keep species alive.

Other recent zoo hatchlings announced Thursday included three golden-breasted starlings in mid-July, now on display in free flight in the Bird House, four snowy owls in mid-June, now among the birds of prey, and seven swan geese in late May, now in the Waterfowl Lagoon.