uShaka Sea World flamingo chick update – week 4.

By: Ann Kunz
SAAMBR Communications

Today marks week four since the flamingo chicks arrived and what an eventful week it’s been.  Last week the chicks were still a delicate creamy white colour with some darker down feathers.  However, today it was difficult trying to find a delicate white fluffy chick as most of them now sport a pinkish tinge on their down feathers, a bright red face and scarlet mouth.     

The chicks were all offered specialised artificial flamingo feed in feeding dishes in their outside enclosures.  AVI Products who produce the feed are kindly supplying all the facilities caring for the flamingo chicks with this specialised feed.  An ingredient in this feed stimulates the pink pigment which will appear in the birds feathers at a later stage.  For now the pinkish down is a result of being really clumsy feeders and spilling most of their feed all over themselves and whoever happens to be nearest at the time. Some of the chicks do manage to fill their crops on their own but most of them need top ups at three of the four controlled feeds.  

We predict that in the coming week a lot of them will master the technique of filter feeding and start weaning themselves off the syringe.  Much like our infants weaning themselves off the bottle, some take longer than others.  The staff working with the flamingos are starting to recognise different personalities in some of the more recognisable chicks. For example, flamingo tagged D8 is the heaviest of all the chicks and weighs in at 260 g but is soft and gentle whilst some of the others are distinguishable because of their mighty voices, prancing and dancing or just simply really good at pecking their neighbours or snuggling into their teddys.      

This week was a milestone for many of the chicks in special care who have left the ICU in the hospital and are spending a couple of hours each day in the high care enclosure outside, enjoying the sunshine.