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Tropicbird Nestling “Sunny” Fledges Out To Sea

Watch the White-tailed Tropicbird chick’s final moments before fledgling.

After 71 days in its nesting cavity, the star chick from our White-tailed Tropicbird cam took wing over the Atlantic Ocean. Watch the chick say one last farewell to the cam on July 4 before stepping up to the entrance of the cavity for its first flight.

Final Farewell: The tropicbird chick’s final health check was conducted by Senior Terrestrial Conservation Officer Jeremy Madeiros and filmed by our partners at Nonsuch Expeditions on July 2. The nestling was named Sunny and was verified as male by bill measurements (longer in male White-tailed Tropicbirds). The chick weighed in at a whopping 15.9 ounces (451 grams), nearly 20% heavier than the average weight for a fledgling tropicbird (13.4 oz/380 g).

Sunny’s healthy condition can be attributed to the unrelenting care provided by the adult male, who took over as sole provider for his chick after the female disappeared early in the nestling period. According to Madeiros, having a male tropicbird raise a chick on its own is a rare feat, as they typically abandon the nest if their mate doesn’t return. Way to go, Dad!

Out To Sea: Now that the White-tailed Tropicbird chick has fledged, it will remain at sea for another 3–4 years before returning to the breeding grounds in Bermuda in search of a nesting cavity and a mate. Good luck out there Sunny—we hope to see you again in a few years. 

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Pileated Woodpecker by Lin McGrew / Macaulay Library