This spoon-billed sandpiper chick is amazingly cute and has an amazing mother and an amazing grandfather.
Its own cuteness needs no elaboration from me.
Its mother was hand-reared by conservationists in Russia from eggs taken from nests on the breeding grounds. The reared birds were then released to set off on their 5000 mile journey to southeast Asia. This chick’s mother completed that journey, avoiding all the natural and man-made dangers on the way and returned to northeast Russia to produce this bundle of cuteness.
This chick’s natural grandparents were expected to have nested again naturally and so perhaps produced another brood of chicks last year ( the uncles and aunts of the bundle of cuteness pictured above).
But the amazing, and proud, grandfather doesn’t look quite as cute as a Spoon-billed Sandpiper, being WWT aviculturist Roland Digby who said:
“I’m incredibly proud of this little bird, who has flown half-way round the world on just her instincts, managing to find the few safe refuges and dodge illegal trappers. Hand-rearing isn’t something we decided on lightly. No one could say for sure how the birds would behave, but the situation was so dire that we had to risk it to buy time for the species. Considering all that, the fact that she made it at all is cause for celebration. That she’s hatched a chick of her own represents real hope for the spoon-billed sandpiper.”
The initiative is intended to boost the number of spoon-billed sandpipers while their habitat is protected and illegal trapping is stamped out. Until now it wasn’t known whether the birds would return to breed themselves.
Fewer than 100 pairs of spoon-billed sandpiper are believed to be left in the wild, rearing just 60 young between them each year on average.
For the last three summers, conservationists have taken eggs from a few clutches and hand-reared the chicks in a protected enclosure. The natural parents are used to losing eggs to predators and lay a second clutch if they do. Using this method, conservationists have increased the number of fledglings from the Chukotka breeding ground year on year. This summer 24 hand-reared spoon-billed sandpipers set off on migration, boosting the number of fledglings by 40 per cent.
The spoon-billed sandpiper conservation breeding programme is a collaboration between WWT, Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo and the RSPB working with colleagues from the BTO, BirdLife International, ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.