DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Congratulations are in order for the birth of the first American flamingo at Flamingo Gardens Wildlife Sanctuary in Davie.
The chick started to hatch on July 31 and fully emerged on August 1. It weighed only 88 grams.
Three flamingo eggs were collected from the flock as they were laid, and artificially incubated to ensure hatching success. Only one egg has hatched so far.
“This is the second time in 15 years that the flamingos laid eggs, but each time the eggs were infertile,” said Michael Ruggieri, Director of Animal Care at Flamingo Gardens. “We were astonished when we came into work and went to rotate the eggs and we could hear one calling out, and could see that it had pipped a hole through the egg.”
The flamingo chick is being hand-reared behind-the-scenes by the sanctuary’s animal care team. Around-the-clock care is required for the chick including feedings every two hours, health checks, growth monitoring and regular exercise such as daily walks to strengthen their delicate legs. Once the chick is large enough to thrive on its own, it will join the flock at the Flamingo Pond. Until then, it will spend about an hour every day at the Flamingo Pond, where it will be monitored closely by animal care staff, and can viewed by the public.
“Raising a flamingo is a tedious process. It takes a lot of time and multiple feedings to care for them properly. Humidity and temperature must be monitored carefully for flamingo offspring to survive. They are hearty, yet fragile birds when young so they must be handled very gently,” said Laura Wyatt, Wildlife Curator at Flamingo Gardens.
Flamingo Gardens is home to 14 adult American flamingos, 4 Greater flamingos and 1 Chilean flamingo. This is the first time a flamingo egg was laid and then successfully hatched at the sanctuary. Prior to this recent hatching, the sanctuary successfully raised 11 American flamingo eggs received from Hialeah Racetrack in 2002. Two of the original 11 flamingos that arrived in 2002 are the parents of the new hatchling.
American flamingos, also known as Caribbean flamingos, are tall, large-bodied birds with long necks and small heads. The American flamingo is the brightest-colored and one of the largest of six species of flamingos. It is native to South America and the Caribbean, and is now widely believed to be native to Florida as well.
Flamingos lay their eggs on a muddy mound that the pair builds, and both parents care for the chick. Although adult flamingos are a salmon pink, the chicks hatch with white down that changes to grey feathering prior to their adult coloration coming in. The birds’ coloration comes from pigments in the aquatic organisms that they eat.