Five little grey fluffballs can now been seen strutting around the flamingo enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo. They have been spotted sticking a foot in the water to test it and practising their one legged stance.
Keepers are happy to see the chicks after they assisted with building the nests. That doesn’t mean it’s been all smooth sailing. Nick Dowling, Edinburgh’s senior bird keeper said, “We weren’t short of drama in the flamingo flock this year! When the first egg arrived the parenting couple got really excited and accidentally knocked it off the nest – their natural instinct was then to abandon the egg.”
Luckily keepers were able to rescue the egg and the chick which hatched from it is now seven weeks old. Dowling added that, “We don’t usually intervene with our flamingo flock but as this was our first egg since 2010, we carefully picked it up and placed it back on the nest. Luckily, one of our same sex male couples went straight onto the nest, fostered the egg and raised it as their own.”
That was the only egg to be raised by an all-male couple though revealed Dowling, ““The fifth egg was born to a young, first time couple, but was then was ‘stolen’ by our other male-male couple! Chilean flamingos are very paternal so often the more dominant couples will squabble with the inexperienced parents and ‘steal’ the egg.”
“Both these chicks are now walking around the enclosure in their father’s footsteps and will continue to feed from them for the next few months as interestingly, both male and female flamingos produce a nutritious, milk-like substance called crop milk.”
The chicks started hatching on the 19th of August with the last one emerging from the egg on 15th September 2014. The 5 chicks bring the total number of flamingos in the flock to 38.
The chicks were incubated by their parents for 30 days and then spent another 3 days hiding beneath their parents until they made their first appearance. They get more adventurous around 2 weeks old when they are finally ready to walk away from their parents. This is also when they start to try adult food. This is because their beaks start to bend after being straight when they were born to help them get out of the egg. The fluffiness will remain till 2 months old till their feathers will grow allowing them to fly.
The young flamingos are on exhibit at the flamingo enclosure which is also home to Edinburgh Zoo’s 3 oldest residents- a trio of male flamingos which are all 53.
Photo Credit: Edinburgh Zoo