Detroit Zoo welcomes 5 flamingo chicks
The Detroit Zoo is welcoming five flamingo chicks born in recent weeks.
The hatchlings – four greater flamingos and one Chilean flamingo – are being reared by their parents and foster parents in the Detroit Zoo’s African bird habitat across from the great apes.
Bird care staff pulled the five flamingo eggs from the habitat for artificial incubation to ensure successful hatching and survival, the zoo said in a press release. But once the hatchlings were introduced back into the flock, their parents took over.
The adults guard the chicks and feed them a nutrient-rich “crop milk” produced in their upper digestive track. Flamingo chicks hatch with straight, short beaks, but as they wean from the crop milk and learn to eat an adult diet, their beaks begin to curve downward.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Detroit Zoo visitors to see flamingo chicks and super-attentive flamingo parents,” said Scott Carter, the Detroit Zoological Society's chief life sciences officer. “It will be fun to watch these five downy little chicks grow into tall, pink flamingos.”
The most recent greater flamingo chicks were hatched at the Detroit Zoo in 2015, while the Chilean flamingo hatchling is the first since 2008. These long-necked, long-legged wading birds can live more than 20 years in the wild and twice as long under human care.
The arrival of the five chicks brings the Detroit Zoo’s flamingo flamboyance to 59 greater flamingos and 21 Chilean flamingos. They share their African Forest habitat with other African bird species, including spoonbills, storks, cranes and vultures.
Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) are born gray and white and do not turn pink for about two years. They grow to be 3 to 6 feet tall and weigh 6 to 8 pounds. The bird, native to Africa and the Middle East, are distinguished by their downward-curved, black-tipped bill.
Native to South America, Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) are born with grayish-brown down feathers that turn pink in about 10 weeks as a result of a diet high in beta carotene. Adults measure around 3 feet tall and weigh 5 to 6 pounds.