August 6, 2019
Do They Ever Grow into Their Feet? Not Really…
- as seen by -Aniko Totha
In the World of Birds nursery at WCS’s Bronx Zoo, we recently hand-raised a black crake (Amaurornis flavirostra) hatchling. Weighing in at a whopping 6.3 grams, equivalent to about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, the chick seemed to be made up of all feet with a hint of baby bird downy feathers.
After some much needed rest from hatching (it’s hard work!), we set the little chick up with a comfortable and warm space where it could grow and thrive. We offer our precocial chicks a surrogate mom, a feather duster, to hide under. During the chick’s first few days, we were having trouble finding him among the feathers of the duster until the chick would stick its bill out with gusto ready for its next meal. Six weeks and lots of growing later, the chick has just about reached its adult size at 70 grams.
Black crakes can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa around fresh water habitats. They can be quite elusive like their rail, gallinule, and coot cousins, sticking to dense vegetation and cover in the marshes. Those enormous feet that they never quite grow into are used to hop and walk across the vegetation in search for crabs, crawfish, and insects to eat. Very rarely do they use their wings for flight, but more so for balance.
Please come and visit our crake adult birds at the zoo’s Aquatic Bird House and see our newest black crake chick in the World of Birds nursery window.