News & Politics

One of the World’s Most Endangered Species Was Just Born in Virginia

Welcome to the world, baby bird!

It's hard to see now, but this baby bird will grow up to be bright orange and blue. Erica Royer/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Forget all that breaking news about US tariffs—there’s a new baby in Virginia, and it just happens to be a member of one of the most endangered species in the world.

A female Guam kingfisher bird was born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute May 17. These birds are the most endangered animals living at the Front Royal site, and a few of the only 140 left on the planet. The group has hatched 19 of the birds since the 1980s as part of its Guam Kingfisher Species Survival Plan.

There’s a reason their numbers are slim: Guam kingfishers don’t really get it on that often. They’re territorial, and it’s hard to find compatible matches (so, yes, it’s a lot like your Bumble profile).

At just about two weeks old, the baby’s down is starting to form. Erica Royer/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

To add to the drama, the baby’s parents didn’t take to her while she was in egg form, so she had to be artificially incubated and is being hand-raised by keepers.

Although little, pink, and feather-less right now, the chick will grow up to be an orange shade with blue wings. She just has to keep up her diet of mealworms and chopped mice and crickets (yummm), and she’ll be fleeing the nest in no time.

If you’re over Netflix tonight and want something new to watch, check out footage of the chick hatching. She doesn’t have a name yet, according to officials, but for what it’s worth, we think she looks like a Fiona.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.