By Martin Weil January 10
However anyone defines a rare bird, one of the feathered flyers residing at the National Zoo seemed to fit the bill. According to the zoo it was one of only 146 members of its species in the entire world.
Given that small population, it was easy to believe that, as the zoo said, of all the birds and beasts in its collection, the bird, a Guam Kingfisher, belonged to the “most endangered species” there.
On Saturday, the zoo said, the bird died. He was 17 years old, the zoo said, making him a survivor among survivors, a long-lived member of the small band who were his avian brethren.
In the words of the announcement made Monday by the zoo, he was “geriatric for his species.”
In Washington, this Guam Kingfisher made his home at the zoo’s Bird House. Before coming to the zoo in July of 2013, he had been spending his blue-backed time at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.
Members of the species often measure about 10 inches in length, with a prominent, pointed bill that is as long as two inches.
Although the kingfisher had enjoyed a longer life in which to display his cinnamon- colored belly than many of his species, his death was nevertheless sad, the zoo said.
He was not the only Guam kingfisher at the zoo or the Front Royal facility. A report in Smithsonian magazine a little more than five years ago, placed the population at the two places at 10. It noted that at the time of its 2011 publication, two new ones had just been born at the conservation institute.