By: Ann Kunz
It’s week six and although there have been many highlights perhaps the most noticeable is the change in the flamingos feathers. Up until recently they were fully covered by light and fluffy soft down feathers. These down feathers are loosely arranged in structure which helps trap air close to the chicks’ body thereby keeping them warm.
As the chicks are getting older they are better able to regulate their body temperature and the need for protection from the cold is giving way to their need to grow adult feathers and thereby prepare for flight and waterproofing. In the six weeks that we have been caring for the chicks every day is different but the one consistent is the fact that not all chicks are equal. Although they are all sprouting spiky feather shafts with tiny miniature branches, some of them are only sprouting these shafts on the tops of their heads, others on their stomachs and some have even started sprouting wing feathers.
This period of change is giving them a somewhat comical and untidy look which is at the same time most appealing. If they are not feeding, resting, bullying or loving their neighbours they can be seen spending time swimming and preening.
Their enclosure has doubled in size and now offers the flamingos a choice of either spending their time in the sun or in the shade. As they lose their insulating down feathers they are able to spend longer periods in the sun without the risk of overheating.
We are expecting even more significant changes in the coming week as their feathers start to grow and take shape.