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Endangered Florida Sparrow Chicks Hatch

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is hailing the hatching of the first Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks in captivity.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is hailing the hatching of the first captive-bred Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks, born at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) in Loxahatchee, Fla..

The species, says the FWS in a release, is one of North America's most endangered birds, with only an estimated 150 left in the wild.

Pretty Plumage Sets These Shimmering Birds Apart: Photos

Because of those dire circumstances, a captive-breeding program was launched in 2015 when five nestlings from two different clutches were collected from the wild, along with two juveniles of the species that would serve as their "tutors."

Last month, the birds began to pair off, and on May 9 one of the females hatched four nestlings. Thus far, indications are that their mother is taking good care of the young birds.

VIDEO: How The Endangered Species Act Looks Out For Animals

These are indeed tough times for the tiny bird.

According to Audubon Florida, the Florida grasshopper sparrow has seen about 85 percent of the dry prairie habitat on which it depends destroyed, due to its conversion into pasture land for grazing animals.

Experts say the births could not have come at a better time, as they are not optimistic about 2016 population counts for the bird in the wild, with even the local weather in Florida not cooperating.

"This breakthrough is great news because the Florida grasshopper sparrow couldn't be more vulnerable," said Sandra Sneckenberger, one of the FWS' lead biologists on the bird's recovery effort, in a May 11 statement.

"Unfortunately," she said, "last week's storms flooded most of the wild birds' first nest attempts of the season. That brought the need for this captive-breeding program into even sharper focus. The four hatchlings are hopeful signs that bode well for producing options for recovery."

The first captive-bred Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks hatched at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) in Loxahatchee, Fla.

See this bird? Hard not to, right? It's

caused quite a stir

in a Brooklyn neighborhood this week. It's a male painted bunting, a showy finch that's not usually seen in the area. He's drawn crowds of onlookers -- both dedicated and casual birders alike. If he knows he's been trending on Facebook lately, he chooses to pretend he doesn't. In this bright bird's honor, we thought we'd celebrate a few other fliers with flashy feathers. Enjoy!

Gaudy Bird's Appearance Electrifies Brooklyn

Check out this king vulture. The fleshy orange lump on its beak is called a caruncle. Its function is, as in so many other features in nature, a purely ornamental way to attract the ladies. It would make a good guest host on The Muppets.

Why Vultures Have Iron-Clad Stomachs

This male Mandarin duck is also looking full to bursting with color. Native to East Asia, this one's a female, evident from the white tip on the end of her otherwise red bill.

Funky Ducks Thrive At NYC's Central Park: Photos

Kingfishers can bring the flash, too. Neat fact: Kingfishers nest in cavities, often holes underground. Some kingfishers nest in vacated termite nests.

Tiny Bird Breaks Travel Reco

rds

The keel-billed toucan can reach nearly 2 feet long, including its bill, and weigh around 1 pound. The tree-perching experts have feet with toes that point in different directions - the better to cling with. Its bill is just hollow bone and not at all as big of a pain as it looks like for them to carry around.

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Here's another striking bird,the common green magpie, and there's nothing common about its plumage.

Birds' Nests In Bizarre Urban Places: Photos

How could we not include a peacock, if we're interested in displaying dazzling bird colors?

Animals That Use Flash To Attract: Photos

Make way for a blue-and-yellow macaw! The parrot makes its home in forests and woods in tropical South America. It can talk, it gets along well with humans, and it can reach nearly 3 feet long and weigh up to 3 pounds. There's not a lot of variation in the coloring of blue-and-yellow macaws. They're pretty much, well, blue and yellow. But even with standard-issue colors they're stunning all the same.

Dinosaurs Of A Feather Come Together: Photos

The only thing better than one parrot is a collection of four, gathering to compare plumage, trade stock tips, and catch up on each other's weekends.

Only One "Rio" Parrot Left

Can you guess what this bird is called? If you said "hey, DNews, it's a red crested turaco," you'd be right! Did you also know it's the national bird of Angola? It sounds a bit like a monkey when it makes its calls in the jungle, and it's red crest is such a dazzler that this ginger-topped bird has it in its name.

Even Great Tits Pass On Traditions