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Baby seabirds born at Oregon Coast Aquarium

NEWPORT, Ore. - Four baby birds have hatched in recent weeks at the Oregon Coast Aquarium's Seabird Aviary.

The new arrivals - a common murre nicknamed Alice, and tufted puffins nicknamed Stanley, Stewart and Stella - hatched between July 21 and August 1.

"They just fill the palm of your hand right now, no bigger than a lemon, and most of that is feathers," said aviculturist Heather Olson.

The parents spend their time snuggling with their young chicks to keep them warm and deliver them tiny whole fish to eat.

Aquarium staff perform daily visual examinations of each chick and weigh them to ensure they are growing at a healthy rate, according to the aquarium staff.

Despite their names, the gender of the birds has not yet been determined. That requires a blood test, and the little birds need to grow a bit more first, according to aquarium staff.

According to the aquarium staff, common murres nest in the open on top of rocks, just like penguins, their famous doppelgangers from the southern hemisphere. Parents take turns tucking the tiny two and a half ounce chick under their wings to keep it warm and shielded from curious members of the Aquarium's flock. Keen-eyed visitors may spot one of these baby birds nestled up against their parents' bellies in the Seabird Aviary exhibit.

The young tufted puffins will stay nestled in their burrows, which mimic the deep burrows puffins use in the wild, for the next six to eight weeks. The Aquarium's aviculturists check on chicks during this time by lifting covers that are fitted above the end of each burrow.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is open every day this summer from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information and to buy tickets visit aquarium.org or call (541) 867-FISH.

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