Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Celebrating Chilean chicks of all ages and sizes – and some still to hatch!


CHILEAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus chilensis)

Young Chileans (resized) Sept 10


Chilean Flamingos originate in South America.  They make their nests out of mud by piling mud into large mounds about 15 inches in diameter and 1 ½ -2 feet tall.  The female makes an indentation on the top where she lays her egg.  Incubation lasts 27-31 days, and both the mother and father sit on the egg.  When it hatches, the chick is covered with gray downy feathers.  Their beaks are straight at birth so that they can be fed by regurgitation from their parents.  After a few months the beak curves.  They grow into their adult plumage over a period of about two years.  They become sexually mature at 6 years of age.   The typical lifespan in the wild is up to 50 years. 


So far this season we’ve been blessed with 17 Chilean Flamingo chicks – they’ve been hatching throughout the summer – the range of different ages and sizes of chicks can clearly be seen in the image (left).




Chilean with late Sept 10 chick (resized)


The image on the right shows one of the younger Chilean chicks still spending much of its time close to the ‘nest’ (the mound of mud at the back of the enclosure) with the female parent bird. 

The Chilean Flamingo is listed on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II.  This appendix lists species that are in need of protection and are considered to be threatened, likely to become endangered, if trade is not regulated.  All flamingo populations in the wild are at risk of declining because they are found in such large numbers, which are necessary for proper breeding, and also because of their fragile wetland habitats.  Humans are the main threat for these birds due to either direct misuse of their home lands or from indirect damage such as changing characteristics of the land such as water levels.




Chilean still sitting on egg late Sept 10 (cropped)



  • Hours before hatching, flamingo chicks begin vocalizing within the egg – this establishes a bond with their parents so they can locate each other in a flock of thousands!
Even though it’s late in the season, a couple of our Chilean females are still incubating eggs - as can be seen in the image on the left – taken this afternoon in the warm Autumn sunshine.

1 comment:

  1. The flamingo exhibit is incredibly dirty and full of bird feces.

    There are hardly any exhibits, not to mention not a single elephant. Terrible