August was a month full of great weather, fun events and baby birds at the Aviary! Among our nestlings are some newcomers that will leave you tickled pink. If you havent heard the news already, our colorful pride of chilean flamingoes have added two new additions to their flock! On August 14, our first male flamingo was born to parents green 34 and green 38. The second chick, a female, hatched just a few days later on August 19 to parents blue 60 and green 33. Our keepers Identify the parents by the bands they wear and have been monitoring them throughout nest building and incubation process to make sure they are fit parents for the chicks. They have proven their abilities throughout the preparatory stages and even more so as the chicks have arrived, keeping very careful eyes on their babies as they explore new life in their Aviary home. The flamingo babies can be identified as well, the male being far bigger than the female. Flamingo parents are able to recognize their own chick through vocalizations, which can be observed with our flock as well.

 

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In the first days of life, the chicks remained on their nests with parents keeping them under their wing and within eyesight at all times. Within the 1st week, however, they began walking, swimming, and exploring their exhibit, still always keeping their parents close by.  As they age, the chicks will depend on their parents’ crop milk for about the first 6 months of life, but will also begin eating foods like flamingo pellets and algae on their own within the first week. These foods provide additional nutrition to the chicks as they continue to grow... and they are growing fast! They seem to be learning everything from feeding to standing on one leg after only a few days of being born. Not to mention, they get bigger and bigger every day. 

 

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Our unique method of raising chicks involves the benefits of them living in the flock and being tended to by their parents while also keeping them safe at night.  Every night at sunset, our keeper staff will bring the chicks inside where they are kept in a warm brooder to ensure their safety and health. The keeper then returns the chicks to their parents first thing in the morning. Once they are strong enough to walk, run and swim, as well as when they are big enough (around 1000g), they will remain outside with their flock throughtout the entire night. In the wild, flamingoes form large chick nurseries also called a “crèche” where parents will leave them for periods of time while they forage for food, so being without their flock for extended periods of time is not uncommon for flamingo chicks. 

 

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Now that the chicks are here, we have begun the name-picking process! However, we are going to need help. Our first chick will be named by a donor who had the highest bid at our annual conservation gala, Ready to Hatch. The second flamingo chick will be named by the public through a voting process on facebook. If you have ever wanted the opportunity to name one of our birds, here is your chance! Our keepers have decided to go with an Avengers theme for our second chick, because they have done "whatever it takes" to make sure these chicks have made it here safely and happily. They even went to such measures as installing netting around the flamingo exhibit prior to their birth to keep the babies safe from a family of cooper hawks that live near by. The names they have decided on are:  

Spiderman

Stormbreaker

Hawkeye

Fury

You will have the opportunity to vote on a name this Thursday, September 5th, via facebook and the names will be announced along with flamingo face paint, crafts, acitivities, bird shows and keeper talks at our Let's Flamingle celebration on September 14th! 

 

- Mackenzy Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator 

Published in Bird Tweets

Pride month in Salt Lake City has been a colorful display of love and equality. Rainbow flags hang from every building and continuous parties have flown through the streets almost nightly. Tracy Aviary has had it's own prideful displays by some of our same-sex bird couples this month as well. The most popular of those couples are, of course, the flamingos! Our Chilean flamingo family have begun to pair up and build their nests, and it comes as little surprise that some of the best nest-building couples are our same sex pairs. As Pride month comes to an end we thought we should celebrate this beautiful and lively flock! We gathered information about some our favorite flamingo couples here at the Aviary and the science behind them choosing a mate.

 

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Each spring, around mid-March, our Chilean flamingo flock begins their breeding season with courtship displays.  This flock has 26 birds, and 21 of them are of breeding age. The reason for these displays are because each flamingo is evaluating their flock-mates to determine who is eligibile as a partner for the upcoming nesting season. They will start off their displays slowly with wing salutes, reverse-preens, wing-leg stretches, head flagging, and marching. Flamingos do this so that each bird can show off the brighter pink and stark black feathers on their wings. The brightness of these colors are an indication to their mates of good health and a promising sign that they will be able to provide food and resources for a chick in the future. These birds will pick up frequency as the spring progresses, until all of the flock is displaying almost constantly throughout the day. Both the male and female flamingos will perform courtship displays, and then make the final and mutual decision on which bird they wish to pair with.  

By early May, almost every flamingo will have selected a partner for the breeding season. It is around this time when something interesting can be observed. Not every flamingo couple here at Tracy Aviary is composed of one male and one female! Over the years we have seen many different types of pairings between flamingos; one male with one female, one male with one male, one female with one female, two males with one female, and even three females. We believe that these pairings occur because the birds in this flock are simply concerned with finding the partner that can most successfully help them raise a chick, whether or not that partner is able to help them create an egg. 

 

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This year, our flock has separated into 6 male/female pairs, 1 male/male pair, 1 female/female pair, 1 female throuple, 2 unpaired adults (male and female), and 5 unpaired juveniles (under the age of 2).  Seeing these pairings each season, we get to know whether or not they return to the same bird as the year before or whether they find a new partner.  What we are finding is that these birds like to re-pair with the same partner for multiple years in a row.  Here are a few fun facts about the relationships of our Aviary flamingo flock couples:

  • Out of our 6 male/female pairs, 5 pairs have been together for more than 3 years, with some of the pairings having been together for over 8 years!  One couple, Blue 60 and Green 33, have been together since 2011 and have raised several chicks together.  These birds are the parents of Bubbles (Blue 53, hatched in 2017) and Newt (Orange 02, hatched in 2013), to name a few of their offspring. 
  • Our male/male pairing has also been together for quite a while.  Tan 24 and White 95 have been a couple since 2015, after White 95’s female partner passed away of sudden health issues, and the two males decided they were the best fit for each other. The pair tend to be a favorite among employees because they are the Aviary rockstars when it comes to nesting season. They are always the first to begin building their nest, always pick prime real estate for their nest, and build the biggest, tallest, and most well-constructed nest out of the entire flock. They are truly dedicated to building and protecting a nest, and would make excellent foster parents if the opportunity presented itself.
  • Our pair of two females, Green 30 and White 99, have been together for a few years now, but are far less invested in nesting than the rest of the breeding flock.  They have built nests and incubated in the past, but they are typically the last to build their nest and the least invested in doing so.  This pair is more interested in spending time together out in the pond, and can always be seen sleeping, eating, bathing, or preening together.
  • The newest relationship development is our all-female throuple. Orange 02 (Newt), Orange 49 (Floyd Jr.), and Black 05, are a new and interesting developement that is still in a state of flux.  Currently, we are seeing a dynamic between these 3 females resembling what we humans would call a “love triangle”.  Newt and Floyd Jr. both appear interested in each other, but Black 05 is interested only in Newt. Newt, however, is moderately interested in Black 05, but Floyd Jr. does not want Black 05 around at all. Newt can be seen spending time with either of the other females and will build nests with both of them.  Whenever Black 05 and Floyd Jr.  get near eachother or see the other with Newt, they will display defensively and fluff out their feathers, bite at each other, and vocalize loudly.  This grouping is new and different from last year when Floyd Jr. was paired with a male, and Newt and Black 05 were a couple.  We are looking forward to seeing whether or not this throuple can make things work!

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Here at the Tracy Aviary, we love and support every flamingo couple, regardless of how they choose to pair.  While none of them have had the opportunity to raise chicks yet this year, we are always encouraging them to practice those good natural behaviors and engage in this breeding season.  We are looking forward to seeing what happens with our flamingo flock, or rather, "pride", and hope everyone had a safe and happy time celebrating this month.

 

-Mackenzy Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator

 

Published in Bird Tweets

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of one of our Chilean flamingo chicks. Our eldest chick of three hatched July 16, 2018 and died August 16. 2018. In his first couple of weeks, he enjoyed snuggling up with his keeper in the mornings and parents during the day, then quickly grew independent and curious in the following weeks. He’ll be remembered fondly by visitors and staff as an independently sassy flamingo. We recall the proud little chirp he gave when he first mastered the balancing act of standing on one leg, and the spirited nature that shone through when he’d play chase with the ducks. 

Although the baby flamingo chick was in his parent’s care for the majority of the time, our keepers were very involved, watching each new flamingo family for hours in the heat of the day and bringing the flock inside for their safety at dusk. We recognized the first signs of concern Wednesday, August 15th when the eldest chick didn’t quite seem his typical curious self. We take any change in behavior very seriously, so we immediately contacted our veterinarian technicians to evaluate him and took him to our Avian Board Certified Veterinarian that same day. Our sweet flamingo chick received an exam, an ultrasound, and blood work. The test results showed some minor irregularities and weight loss, causing our veterinarian concern about a potential underlying infection. The chick was treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic and keeper staff provided supportive care with heat and sub-q fluids. Despite these efforts, and a very late night with the chick, he passed away peacefully overnight. Our medical team will perform a necropsy, and we will share the results with you as they come. The flamingo chick will remain one of the family in our hearts. We hope you remember him and his playful personality when you visit with our two happy and healthy baby Chilean flamingos at the Aviary.

Chilean flamingos are listed as near threatened by the IUCN and are vulnerable to habitat change and exploitation, such as unregulated egg collection and hunting. According to a 2010 census, approximately 300,000 individual Chilean flamingos survive in the wild. 

 

-Lauren Wester, Marketing & Events Coordinator

 

Published in Bird Tweets
August 02, 2018

Baby Flamingos

ATTENTION: We have baby flamingos! Three baby flamingos hatched in July of 2018 and they're as adorable as can be. If you're as obsessed as we are about the new baby birds, be sure to come to vote on a name HERE

Flamingos, much like humans, only have one baby at a time, so each baby has a different set of parents. Since these babies can grow to double their hatch size within a week, you'll have to visit before September or October to see them while they're still tiny. You'll still be able to spot the babies after October because they'll keep the gray coloring for a couple of years. Once they've acclimated to their diets, you'll start to see the pink feathers come through. Our "teens" have gray with hints of pink. Following flamingos during each state of adolescence is truly a fascinating and magical experience. We'll admit it. We're proud of our babies and we're going to annoyingly film each phase of their lives from first steps to first explorations. Keep scrolling to watch a video of our baby flamingo trying to stand on one leg for the first time in case you missed it in person. Watch more videos of them growing from our FB page. 

Each baby is adapting to their new environment and starting to show bits of their personalities. Fun facts about each chick below:

BABY 1

We're deeply saddened to announce baby 1 has passed. Please read our most recent blog post on the tragic news: https://tracyaviary.org/blog/loss-of-a-member-of-the-flock

  • Hatched July 16, 2018
  • Birth Weight 92 grams
  • He was independent and liked to chase the ducks and swim

BABY 2

  • Hatched July 28, 2018
  • Birth Weight 86 grams
  • Very vocal, starting to stand in the nest and learning how to stand on one leg

BABY 3 

  • Hatched July 31, 2018
  • Birth Weight 75 grams
  • Stays with mom and dad in the nest and is very cuddly and sleepy

-Lauren Wester, Marketing & Events Coordinator 

 

Published in Bird Tweets