Keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to welcome their first fluffy Flamingo hatchlings of 2016.
Two Chilean Flamingo chicks have recently hatched, with the first peaking its beak out of its shell on August 31 and the other following a few days later, on September 5. There are still a number of eggs on the nests, so more chicks are expected to start hatching in the next couple of weeks and join the Zoo’s Flamingo flock (also known as a “flamboyance”).
Some visitors have even been lucky enough to witness the tiny grey chicks slowly hatching out of their shells. Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) member, Margaret Mollon, managed to capture the hatching of a chick in a series of stunning photographs (seen in the YouTube video link below).
Colin Oulton, Bird Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are delighted to have flamingo chicks at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo again, as the last time we had bred the species was in 2014. Chilean Flamingos are listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List, so these chicks will play an important role as ambassadors, in the conservation of this beautiful, yet increasingly threatened, water bird. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has been home to Chilean Flamingos for more than 40 years, so it is wonderful to see this well-established flock grow.”
Chilean Flamingos normally lay one egg on a mud mound, which the keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo often start to build to stimulate breeding behavior from the flock. The eggs then hatch after a 27 to 30 day incubation period, with both parents sharing the incubation duties.
Newly hatched chicks are normally grey and fluffy, weighing as little as 100g and are normally the size of a tennis ball. Newly hatched chicks also have a straight beak, which enables them to break out of their shell and feed easily from their parents. After a few weeks, the beak starts to bend and they learn how to feed more independently.
Flamingo chicks molt out of their grey chick-down after a few months, but it is over two years before their plumage is as pink as their parents.
As their name suggests, Chilean Flamingos are native to South America. There are currently around 30,000 Chilean Flamingos; however, in the wild, they face threats from habitat loss, egg-harvesting and hunting.