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Keeper Stories – Tuesday, March 7

The days are getting warmer, the trees are blooming, and the birds are singing. Spring must be right around the corner! And with spring comes our main breeding season in the Bird Department. Some of our birds are already showing off their breeding behaviors, and nowhere is this more evident than at the flamingo habitat! Flamingos have a variety of displays they use to bond with their mates at the beginning of the season, and these can continue throughout the season. I thought I’d go over them today.

A) Head flagging: this is the easiest one to pick out. The birds stretch their heads up as high as they can and turn their heads back and forth. Sometimes, the flock will march back and forth across the pool as a group while they do this.

B) Wing salute: This can sometimes be confused for stretching. The flamingo stands really tall with neck straight while both wings are outstretched for a few seconds. Sometimes in our flock, a few wings flaps will follow.

C) Inverted wing salute: For this display the bird leans forward, so its tail is taller than its chest, with wings outstretched in a way that the black flight feathers point upwards. This is sometimes also called bowing.

D) Twist-preen: This one is tricky. The bird twists its neck around as if to preen the feathers behind a half-open wing.
And finally:

E) Wing-leg stretch: If the last one was tricky, this one is just like it sounds! The flamingo stretches out the leg and wing on the same side of the body towards the rear.

A lot of times these will be performed two or three different displays in a row, so next time you stop by the flamingo habitat, see if you can pick them out!
Monica Halpin
Keeper III, Birds

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl