Oregon Coast Aquarium Hatches Adorable New Critters
(Newport, Oregon) – A pair of seabirds at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport became happy parents this week when two baby chicks popped out of their eggs. The proud mama and papa are common murres, and the little ones are quite a handful, say aquarium staff, even though they're only as big a lemon. (Bird photos courtesy Oregon Coast Aquarium).
Aquarium aviculturist Heather Olson said most of that size is feathers as well. They are quite fluffy. Olson said the baby birds’ diminutive size is temporary, and they are already packing on grams by the day.
Currently, the parents spend most of their time snuggling with the little ones, mostly to keep them warm. Periodically, they feed them tiny silverside fish, and they are quite protective, going to great lengths to keep them away from other curious feathered neighbors in the aviary.
In spite of their protective instincts, the parents are tolerant of the daily checkups by staff. Aquarium aviculturists perform a careful visual examination of each chick and weigh them every day to ensure they are growing at a healthy rate. No word on the new additions’ genders yet, that requires a blood test, and the little birds need to grow a bit more before they are ready for that.
Part of the spectacle is watching them feed: parents take turns enclosing the tiny two-and-a-half ounce chick under their wings and delivering it small but whole fish. Staff say you have to look carefully in the Aquarium’s Seabird Aviary exhibit in order to see a baby bird nuzzling up against its parent – but it's worth the effort.
Common murres are found all over the Oregon coast and can be mistaken for penguins. You can see them nesting out in the open on top of rocks – often seen in the wild around rocky cliffs near Florence, at Newport, around Depoe Bay and often in the Oceanside area.
You can see the adorable new additions every day during the summer, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474.
More about Newport below and at the Newport, Oregon Virtual Tour, Map.
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