New bus service launching this summer, with access to WWT Slimbridge. Find out more.

Close alert

'Fan-tache-tic' bearded reedling hatches

For the first time, we've bred bearded reedlings - a new species for WWT Slimbridge!

The Aviculture Team are thrilled to report that our first ever bearded reedling chick has fledged the nest.

Bearded reedling chick on reeds

These birds are famous for 3 things: for surely being the roundest bird out there, for doing the splits between reeds and for the male’s fantastic moustache!

We’re normally very hands-on rearing our birds, but this species required a lot more strategy and inobtrusive observation from the team.

Fun facts

  • Both the male and female incubate the eggs, the females normally at night and the males during the day.
  • Chicks hatch naked at 12-14 days and are fed by both parents before fledging the nest around 30 days.
  • Parents feed their chicks small insects.

We have been offering them fruit flies in addition to their insect pate. It has been amazing to see how many flies they can fit in their beaks at one time. It is believed that chicks need to be fed every 10 minutes!

Phoebe Vaughan, Deputy Living Collections Manager – Aviculture said:

It’s thrilling to breed a new wetland bird for the first time and share this moment with our visitors.

Two bearded reedlings

Rebecca Taylor, Living Collections Warden - Aviculture said:

I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to watch this charismatic species parent rear for the first time in our history. The bearded reedlings are so different compared to our other birds we have in our care, and the team and I look forward to working with them and other similar species in the future.

A pair of bearded reedlings have been on show in the 'Back from the Brink' tunnel since March 2024 and have proven very charming to our visitors.

Stay tuned for 2024's summer WildWatch episode to learn more about this exciting new species at Slimbridge.


  • Share this article