Captive population of critically endangered bird doubles with the birth of nine chicks
Mon 25 Mar 2019 05.48 GMTLast modified on Mon 25 Mar 2019 16.44 GMT
The captive population of Australia’s most unique critically endangered bird has doubled with the birth of nine plains-wanderer chicks, helped out by a feather duster, a heat lamp and a lot of cotton wool.
The chicks were born to two pairs and hatched within 24 hours of each other at Werribee open range zoo in Victoria last week.
Within four days, the zoo director Glen Holland said, the chicks were eating crickets “the size of beans” and zooming around their enclosure “like bumblebees”.
“Once they are hatched and warm and dry they run off and fend for themselves – they are very independent,” Holland said.
One of the clutches was hatched in an incubator and raised under the paternal care of a feather duster after one of the fathers, a four-month-old who was daunted at raising his first chicks, stopped sitting on them.
Like emus, male plains-wanderers bear responsibility for child rearing and stay with the chicks, while the female can move on to another mate soon after laying her eggs.
“They have been snuggling up to the feather duster, pushing up into the feathers,” Holland said.