Flamingo

Tickled Pink! Flamingo Chick Hatches at Smithsonian National Zoo

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On July 29 a Flamingo chick hatched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Its sex has not yet been determined. The flock of 63 birds produces about 15 fertile eggs in a normal breeding season, however, the flock had irregular mating patterns this year. They produced only six eggs and did not construct nests that were sufficient to foster them. So this little chick is being raised by hand by Bird House keepers, who work closely with the Zoo's Department of Nutrition to ensure that the chick is growing at an appropriate rate. They feed it a formula designed to mimic the crop milk produced by flamingo parents and just recently added Flamingo pellets to its diet, which contains the carotenoid pigments that turn a flamingo's plumage pink. 

In the next few months, the chick will join the rest of the flock in the outdoor Flamingo exhibit. Before it is introduced to the flock, the chick will stay in a holding pen where it can observe the adults until it is fully independent. Its feathers are fluffy and white now, but once it is on exhibit, visitors will recognize the chick by its smaller size and gray color. It will gain some pink feathers and its bill will be more pronounced and begin to show the trademark bend at around 6 months of age. By its first birthday, the chick will have a plumage of light pink feathers. The darker pink color will develop fully by two or three years of age.

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian National Zoo


Seeing Pink at Stone Zoo

AP Flamingo CREDIT Elise Amendola_1
Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts announces the hatching of seven Caribbean flamingo chicks.

“It’s always fascinating for our visitors to watch the chicks being raised by their parents. We are expecting a few more eggs to hatch this summer, so guests will have the opportunity to observe these striking birds in various stages of development,” said Frederick Beall, Zoo New England General Curator, who added, “We hope to continue successfully breeding these birds to genetically diversify the colony while increasing our flock.” 

Chick in water CREDIT Elise Amendola AP
Stone Zoo has had a highly successful Caribbean flamingo breeding colony for many years. The first breeding occurred in 1994, and it has continued every year except one with a total of 104 hatches, including the new chicks. The flock at Stone Zoo now numbers more than 42 birds plus seven chicks, which range in age from a few days old to at least 43 years old.  The ideal breeding conditions must include easy access to water as well as a muddy area. Flamingos build their nests by mounding up piles of mud, which can measure up to two feet tall. A single egg is laid and is incubated by both parents. Both parents also rear the chick.

Caribbean flamingo chicks - SZ June 2012


Credit AP Elise Amendola Photo SZ Flamingo

Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham.  Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.

Photo Credits:  Elise Amendola

 


Two Fluffy Flamingo Chicks Hand Raised in Johannesburg

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Every spring in South Africa, Johannesburg Zoo’s flock of flamingos gets busy with preparations for their new chicks. Flamingos start laying eggs around September & October, after carefully building raised nests from mud in their enclosure. Weeks before breeding season starts keepers provide clay-like substrate to the enclosure for the birds to build with. Initially the clay is kept wet once a week to ensure nest stay moist and keep their shape.

Unfortunately, the hen sometimes makes the mistake of laying an egg on the grass or the egg may roll off the nest. For those eggs abandoned by the parents’ zookeepers collect and incubate them for 28 to 30 days in the hope that the chicks will hatch and survive. This is no easy task as the eggs need very specific conditions of 99.5 degrees (37.5 degrees celcius) and 75% humidity to grow.

The first egg laid this season unfortunately rolled off of the nest and was collected by birdkeeper, Elaine Bratt. It was incubated from September 22, and to Elaine’s delight a little chick hatched on October 20! Named Nu, it is the first official flamingo chick of 2011 and is being cared for around the clock, just as its parents would do. Nu was joined by Kuba on November 8. The two live in the zoo’s bird rearing facility called “The Brooder Room”. Each has its own room with a heat lamp to keep the temperature constant. The chicks are fed every 2 to 3 hours a special diet of sardines, shrimp, boiled egg, maize meal, calcium and multi-vitamins.

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Photo Credits: Photos 1-2 Lorna Fuller, Photos 3-4 Candice Segal/Joburg Zoo

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Paignton Zoo Hand Rears Chilean Flamingo Chick

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A Chilean Flamingo chick is being hand-reared by zoo keepers after the egg was abandoned by its parents. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is known for its flock of some 50 Chilean Flamingos that live by the entrance to the Devon zoo. 

Senior head bird keeper Peter Smallbones said, “The chick hatched on July 21, 2011. It is being kept warm in a brooder and fed every 3 hours. We lose eggs to seagulls and to clumsy-footed adult birds, so we take in abandoned eggs to make sure we have some youngsters.” In addition, there are currently two chicks with the flamingo flock on the island. 

Staff are using a syringe to feed the chick on a mixture of children’s porridge and fish. The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) comes from Chile but is also found in southern Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and southern Brazil, and can be found in brackish or saltwater lakes and lagoons. This large bird is classed as Near Threatened.

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Photo Credit: Paignton Zoo


Sleight of Hand Helps Flamingo Moms Rest

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On July 13, three Flamingo chicks went on exhibit at Columbus Zoo. In recent years, the zoo has been increasingly successful in breeding Flamingos. Keepers have found that hand rearing chicks makes these typicaly easily spooked birds more manageable in their adulthood. Columbus Zoo lightens the load for Flamingo moms by positioning a wooden decoy egg in the nest after removing the real eggs for incubation. This ensures that the females won't continue to lay, since egg laying is a taxing operation.

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Photo credits: COurtesy of H. Misner and Columbus Zoo

Unlike adult Flamingos, chicks hatch covered in a fluffy white down which will remain white or grey during the first two years of their lives. The Flamingo's trade mark pink plummage appears in the second or third year. This trio will be on display for an hour each day (from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) with the other 32 flamingos in the Zoo's flock. The rest of the time they'll be behind the scenes eating a special formula and getting plenty of sleep.


Fluffy Flamingo Chicks at Woodland Park Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos have hatched at Woodland Park Zoo, marking the second successful breeding season for the species. The first chick hatched on Oct. 3, followed by the second hatching on Oct. 9. Both chicks are under the care of their parents in the flamingo exhibit near the Temperate Forest. Both parents care for their chick, feeding them “crop milk,” which is nutritionally similar to milk that is produced by mammals. The chicks leave their nest about three to five days after hatching but remain in close proximity to their parents for feedings and brooding.

Chilean flamingo chick woodland park zoo 1

Chilean flamingo chick woodland park zoo 1

Chilean flamingo chick woodland park zoo 1

Photo credits: Dennis Dow / Woodland Park Zoo

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Fluffy Flamingo Chicks at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Seven baby Caribbean Flamingos were hatched at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay between June 3rd and July 25th. The chicks are on display along with approximately 125 adult flamingos in the Bird Gardens area of the park. Newly hatched chicks are not pink, but in fact have gray or white down feathers. Their pink coloring comes from the carotenoid pigments they consume as part of their diet. They won’t lose all of their darker feathers for a few years. Flamingos have long resided at Busch Gardens. Their bright color and gentle nature have made them a favorite of park guests for many years.

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Baby-flamingo-soloPhoto credits: Nick Gollattscheck / Busch Gardens Tampa Bay