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It’s flamingo hatching season!

You know breeding season is in full swing when everything in the flamingo habitat is covered in mud, including the flamingos! This is because flamingo nests, unlike “traditional” bird nests, are made solely out of mud and clay. As far as building materials go, Georgia clay works best, but any clay will work so long as it is not full of rocks and debris or have too much sand or soil mixed in, making it crumbly and not ideal for nest building. Each year we are on the search for the perfect quality dirt and clay and once we finally get our hands on some lovely red Georgia clay, the real work begins. The clay must be added over a series of days and gradually mixed into the existing mud to get the best consistency for nest building. If the mud is too dry the nests crack and fall apart, and if too wet it turns into a giant mud puddle and the flock can’t do much of anything with it.

When we finally get the consistency just right, the nests start popping up like crazy! This is when the flamingo flock soap opera begins as pairs are squabbling and competing for the prime nesting sites to lay their eggs. Zoo Atlanta has one of the most successful breeding flocks of Chilean flamingos in the country, so the eggs produced each year are very important for the Species Survival Plan®(SSP) and maintaining Chilean flamingos in AZA-accredited institutions. Our flock this year produced 37 eggs. Five hatched, and Zoo Atlanta will keep these chicks and return them to the flock to be reared by their parents. The remainder of the eggs were sent to other AZA institutions to help boost their Chilean flamingo flock numbers or even be the starting birds for a brand-new flock of flamingos!

Katherine B.
Keeper III, Birds

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