06/13/2022-. A few weeks ago, Bioparc Fuengirola announced the nesting and laying of more than a dozen eggs by the greater and lesser flamingos it houses. A process that has lasted several weeks and that has been possible thanks to the Zoology team, who assumes the task of conditioning the beach on which they live to simulate a brackish water quagmire. In addition, they are guaranteed to have at their disposal enough mud and clay to build their tall nests as they incubate.
"Throughout the incubation process, the management has been very similar to the one previously carried out. Humidity and salinity levels continue to be maintained in the nest area, and cleaning is minimized so as not to create stress in the flamingo colony. We let everything follow its natural course", explains Antonio Garrucho, head of Zoology and bird coordinator of Bioparc Fuengirola.
A month after the first layings, the flamingo chicks have begun to hatch from their shells. At the moment, there are already four that have appeared among the plumages of the parents with a grayish down that has nothing to do with the characteristic pink color of adults.
A hatching that lasts up to 48 hours
These little flamingos begin to chop the egg very little by little, until they break it definitively. It is a long hatching that usually lasts about forty-eight hours, a process that causes the exhaustion of the little ones by the effort made. "The chicks hatch weak and this makes them quickly consume the vellum, ingesting the nutrients they need in those almost two days of hatching," says Garrucho.
Later and once outside, the mother will assume her food. First, generating a hyperprotein substance that is commonly known as 'buche milk' that regurgitates from this area to the beak of the child; to later continue nourishing it with a direct regurgitation of what these adults eat.
The chicks will stay in the nest for three to four days, in some cases even a week. When it's time to leave it, they begin an exploration route through the flamenco colony. "They browse the area as if it were an excursion and to which the rest of the chicks are added. A kind of nursery a little more separated from adults."
The DNA test: the only procedure to confirm the sex of flamingos
With a grayish down, the flamingo chicks are born measuring about 20 centimeters in height, a size that in less than a month will reach the meter. The grayish plumage of the little ones will not reach the characteristic pink tone of adults until they are four or five years old.
During all this time and until reaching reproductive maturity will change not only the color of the feathers, but also that of their legs. Its height serves as a guide to veterinarians and caregivers to suspect the age of the bird, in addition to its sex. The female usually has a smaller size than the males, although it is not a determining aspect.
To know the sex of each one, the only safe method is DNA analysis. "We are facing a species in which, sometimes, there is an overlap in size between the two sexes. Something that usually distinguishes males and females, with flamingos is not worth us. Even the banding measures do not ensure the sex of the animal," explains Garrucho.
If all goes well, Bioparc Fuengirola will see the birth of new flamingo chicks until the beginning of July. During these weeks, the team of veterinarians and caregivers also hopes that the incubation of the dwarf flamingo has been successful.
People who visit the Malaga conservation center during these weeks will encounter more than one new chick embarking on the adventure in the enclosure they inhabit. A tender picture that will not leave anyone indifferent.