Como Zoo has a new resident. This baby flamingo — only the fourth flamingo to be born at Como in 115 years — is now on public display huddled near its pink parents. There might be one more this year, too!!
If you want some interesting facts to spout to your children about the new baby flamingo, the City of St. Paul had some good ones in their press release (which I have just cut and pasted for your reading pleasure below):
Flamingos are most known for their remarkable color—from pale pink to salmon and red—but they are not born with this colored plumage, nor can they maintain it without a proper diet. Flamingo chicks are born white and turn grey after a few weeks. It is after a year or so that they begin to develop their attractive rosy coloring. Alpha and Beta carotene pigments in a flamingo’s diet create the brilliant hues. These pigments are added to the diets of captive flamingos.
In the wild, flamingos gather to breed in large colonies—often thousands of individuals at once. Although flamingos reach sexual maturity at 2-6 years, they usually do not begin breeding before six years of age. Breeding can occur at any time and may happen twice a year. Individuals may not breed every year.
The female lays one large egg atop a constructed mound of mud. The mound is usually about .3 meters (one foot) tall. The egg is incubated by both parents for 26-31 days. Among Chilean flamingos, the male is the primary care giver. Adults recognize the chick by sight and vocalizations and will not feed any other chick. Chicks are fed a red secretion of the upper digestive tract from both parents called “crop milk.” Although it isn’t truly milk—only mammals produce milk—it contains similar nutrients. The chick leaves the nest after four to seven days.