Successful Guam kingfisher hatching this month

Photo by Jim Jenkins, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

While the brown tree snake decimated the population of Guam endemic birds such as the Guam kingfisher, or sihek, in the wild, a captive breeding program at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute continues its efforts to save the bird species, even reporting a successful hatching this month.

The Guam kingfisher hatched on April 22, Eastern Time, after 22 days in an incubator. Weighing 8.5 grams upon hatching, the chick will continue to grow every day through a feeding regimen consisting of mice, and eventually adding crickets, mealworms and small lizards into the menu.

According to the institute,  the Guam kingfisher were taken from the wild into human care in the 1980s to create a breeding program to save the species from extinction. Since hatching its first chick in 1985, around 20 chicks have been raised at the institute as part of the Guam Kingfisher Species Survival Plan.

Guam kingfishers are extinct in the wild. Only approximately 140 live in human care, making every chick extremely precious, according to the Smithsonian Institute.