Two critically endangered blue-billed curassow birds have been born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington D.C., adding to the current population number of 71. The two new female additions bring the total population of blue-billed curassows to 73.
Currently, the two new female chicks are being cared for off-exhibit, and have been named Aluna and Lulo. Encouragingly, they are both female, which is good news considering the current population is largely made up of males. The birth of two new females may help the population to thrive in the long-term.
The keepers caring for Aluna and Lulo have described the two chicks as 'confident and curious'. They have been hand-raised by the team to give them the best chance of survival, as unfortunately their mother didn't show an interest in incubating her eggs. Despite this, the two chicks are thriving so far. They are even provided with adult feathers to cuddle as part of their 'socialization' time when the keepers are not around, helping with their enrichment.
Heather Anderson, one of the animal keepers, expressed how 'every moment with these chicks has been a dream come true'. She continued by saying 'it was amazing to watch these precocial birds as their instinctual abilities to eat, perch and preen their feathers kicked in—all in the first day of life! For other bird species, those milestones could take weeks to achieve'.
The year of 2020 also saw major breeding success for many endangered seabirds in the UK, with population numbers bouncing back. This was achieved through efforts by the RSPB to provide safe and suitable habitats for many of the birds, included added protections.