To the delight of the staff at the Maui Bird Conservation Center, a Maui parrotbill chick hatched on May 17, 2004. This is the first chick of this species to hatch at the center from a captive-laid egg. This egg was removed from the nest two weeks before to avoid damage by the parents. They had already broken the first egg laid this year and the program did not want to risk losing the second egg.
The mother of the egg was hatched in captivity in 1999 from a wild-collected egg and the male was brought to the Center for rehabilitation after it was injured in the field in a mist-netting mishap in 2001. The pair has been socialized together for the past two years but this is the first year they actually began to lay eggs.
The chick will initially be fed a diet of bee larvae, bits of crumbled hardboiled egg, and the soft inner parts of adult crickets. As the chick grows, additional food items will include wax moth larvae, mealworms, and supplementation of vitamins, calcium, and bone meal. The chick will fledge in about three weeks and wean in about two months. When fully independent, this chick, depending on its sex, will become part of the captive-breeding flock at either the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center or the Maui Bird Conservation Center.
This species is part of the reintroduction program that aims to re-establish this unique Hawaiian honeycreeper into historical habitat on the slopes on Haleakala Volcano on East Maui. This recovery effort is part of a conservation partnership between the San Diego Zoo, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Haleakala National Park.
Alan Lieberman is the program director for the San Diego Zoo’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program.
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