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Florida grasshopper sparrow chick

One of our sparrow chicks at their banding exam. Photo by Conservation Coordinator Kelly Currier.

We are thrilled to share that after several weeks of buzzing, nest building and egg laying from their parents, our first Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks of the season have hatched! Every birth is a big deal for this critically endangered species as we work with conservation partners to increase their population.

Once they have matured and been medically cleared, the chicks will be released into their natural range in Central Florida to boost the population of their species. They will serve as invaluable members of this population which is on a steep decline due to habitat loss, disease, limited genetic diversity and nonnative fire ants (which can invade nests and feed on chicks). As of 2021, just over 100 members of their species were detected in their natural range. Last year, 43 of our hatched sparrows were released into their natural range to boost the population of this species.

Peg and Eddie are the parents of our first two sparrow chicks to hatch. This pair, along with three others, were genetically matched by a team of Florida grasshopper sparrow experts to ensure the healthiest and most diverse population of the species.

Peg laid her eggs in a nest in a behind-the-scenes area. The eggs were incubated for just 10 days before hatching. The other Florida grasshopper sparrow pairs (Ava and Gator, Wild One and Vince, and Zoey and Landon) are at different stages of the nesting process.

The newly hatched sparrows will stay with their parents for 21 days, after which they will be moved to another behind-the-scenes habitat at the Zoo and be monitored to confirm they are doing well on their own before being released into their natural range. This also gives their parents the opportunity to continue to breed and lay eggs throughout the breeding season, which can go through September.

Our chicks will be given color bands on their legs before they leave, which will allow biologists to identify and track each bird so they can continue to gather valuable information on this critically endangered species.

We’re hopeful for more good news about this nesting season soon!

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.