Video: Rare View of Critically Endangered, Painfully Adorable Chicks Taking First Steps
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- Categories: Animals
Every summer, endangered spoon-billed sandpipers meet in Russia’s far east. For two months, the small, russet- and white-colored birds breed and raise their young. Each chick is crucial. With around 100 breeding pairs, the species teeters on the edge of extinction.
Now, the unsteady first steps of tiny sandpiper chicks have been captured on video. The footage, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, shows the stumbling, fluffy chicks wandering around near their wind-blown nest near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka — an autonomous region in extreme eastern Russia.
“To my knowledge, this is the only spoon-billed sandpiper nest that has ever been filmed,” said narrator Gerrit Vyn, a videographer and producer at the Lab of Ornithology. Vyn and a 10-person crew went to Chukotka in the summer of 2011 to film the sandpipers at their breeding grounds.
Unlike some other birds, spoon-billed sandpipers are born with the ability to feed themselves, and will begin making short foraging trips soon after hatching. After the last chick emerges, mom leaves the nest and heads south. For about three weeks, the chicks will remain in the tundra, searching for food and following their father’s lead until he, too, begins his migration. Then they’ll pack up and fly south, to the coastal mudflats of Southeast Asia, following a route known as the East Asian-Australasian flyway.
The sandpipers’ path takes them through the wetlands of the Yellow Sea, where agriculture and development have destroyed much of a once-healthy ecosystem. Losing these wetland stopovers is one of the reasons why the spoon-billed sandpiper’s population has crashed, reports the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Other threats include nest predation and hunting by humans; in some Southeast Asian markets, spoon-billed sandpipers are sold for 25 cents, Vyn reported.
Video: Cornell Lab of Ornithology