Flamingo Chicks Hatch at the Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo’s Chilean flamingo flock is expanding. This is the first time in six years the Zoo has successfully hatched flamingo eggs. The chicks have been named Astro and Orbit, in honor of Houston’s major league baseball team. Guests can see the two new chicks, along with several other flamingos actively nesting, on exhibit behind the Flamingo Terrace, or online on the Zoo’s Flamingo Cam.
Flamingos build nests that look like mounds of mud. The female lays one egg at the top and the parents take turns sitting on the egg to keep it warm and after approximately 30 days the egg will hatch. Flamingos breed in synchrony within flocks to aid the survival of the chicks. Flamingos are born grey or white and have small and straight bills. Flamingo parents hold their bent bills upside down while feeding their chicks. It can take up to three years for the chicks to reach their mature pink color for which they are known.
Flamingos get their pink color from their high carotenoid diet which is a pigment found in the food they eat. Their diet includes aquatic insects, algae, and small crustaceans. Unable to drink salt water, Chilean flamingos drink from springs and puddles and have bristle-like projections on their tongues to filter water and food. Flamingos have the longest neck and legs in proportion to the body size of all birds.
By coming to the Zoo to see the newest members of the Chilean flamingo flock, guests are helping to save wild birds in South America. A portion of each Zoo membership and ticket helps the Zoo provide support for replanting trees. The Zoo is also helping birds by serving bird-friendly coffee. Bird-friendly coffees are grown in a way that provides shelter and a variety of foods for birds and other wildlife.