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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The flamingos are building nests

Posted by: Zoo Corps

The flamingos are doing great in their new exhibit! They are slowly becoming accustomed to a constant stream of curious visitors. Flamingos are a gregarious species, meaning they like to live in large groups. Our flock currently has 27 members, but will soon grow when we add six new hand-raised female flamingos to the exhibit. We hope that the flamingos will be more comfortable in a larger group and begin breeding. Look out for breeding behaviors like nest building or synchronized group “dances,” which eventually lead to eggs and then a crèche (a congregation of baby flamingos separated from the adults, except for feeding). Babies don’t resemble the adults as closely as you might think; instead of being pink with a long curved beak, they spend their first two years fluffy white and straight-beaked.

Already, our flamingos have begun building nests from mud, sticks, and sometimes even feathers. Flamingos are extremely protective of their nest sites and will become defensive (raising their feathers and squawking loudly) if they think their nests are threatened. Besides the nests the flamingos are constructing, there are full-size models of nests outside the exhibit where you can get a closer look and see what the nests are like up close. Keep your feathers crossed for upcoming chicks!

(Zoo Corps is the Woodland Park Zoo teen volunteer program. Zoo Corps recruits interested teens from diverse backgrounds to help the zoo provide conservation education for all ages.)

Photo: A flamingo sits on a mud nest. Photo by Arianne.

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