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New kids in the flock

They’re baaack! Those little balls of fluff everyone has been missing the last six weeks are back in their habitat! That’s right, I’m talking about the flamingo chicks. If you were able to see them in late August before they migrated behind the scenes with their parents for monitoring, you’ll notice that they already look very different!

The first, most obvious change is that they’re bigger! When they hatch, the little guys are only 2 ounces, but by the time they are ready to reunite with the flock they are almost 3 pounds! They grow very quickly but will still not be adult height until they are 6 months old. At that time they will weigh in at a total of 4 to 6 pounds. Their beaks also look different. When flamingos hatch, they have short, straight beaks in order to help facilitate feeding from their parents. Now they are turning down into the typical curved shape. They are able to eat on their own, although they won’t have the full filtering abilities the adults have until they’re about 3 months old, so their parents will continue to feed them as well up until this time.

One final difference you might not be able to see is they are developing some of their adult feathers! Their black flight feathers are starting to grow in, and you might be able to see a few pink feathers in there too when they spread their wings. The first part of a flamingo to turn pink is the armpits (wing pits?) By about 6 months old, they should be fully feathered, but they still won’t be pink! They will have a mottled look with black, brownish-grey, and pink feathers for the next one to two years until they grow in a full set of pink feathers. If you look in the flock, you will see three birds that are mostly pink with grey on their necks and heads. These are the chicks that hatched in 2016. You can see what a difference a year makes!
Monica Halpin
Keeper III, Birds

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