Flamingo Chicks Hatched
Viewable Daily at 10:30 am
We are thrilled to announce the hatch of six American flamingo chicks. The eggs hatched between June 28 and July 30. The eggs were collected from the flock as they were laid and artificially incubated to ensure hatching success. Visitors can catch a glimpse of one or more of the flamingos daily at 10:30 am at the Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital.
Currently, the flamingo chicks are being hand-reared behind-the-scenes by the zoo’s dedicated veterinary and animal care teams. Around-the-clock care for the chicks includes feedings, health checks, growth monitoring and regular exercise such as daily walks to strengthen their delicate legs. Once the chicks are large enough to thrive on their own, they will be introduced to the flock and live on the lake.
First Since 1999
The Sacramento Zoo is home to 36 adult American flamingos. The last time a flamingo egg was laid and then successfully hatched at the zoo was in 1999. Prior to the recent hatchings, the zoo has hatched 28 flamingos in its 90-year history and has housed American flamingos since 1966. One of the original eight flamingos that arrived in 1966 still resides on the zoo’s lake.
American flamingos, also known as Caribbean flamingos, are the brightest-colored and one of the largest of six species of flamingos and is native to South America and the Caribbean with a small population in the Galapagos. Although adult flamingos are pink, the chicks hatch with white down that change to grey feathering prior to their adult coloration coming in after a couple of years. The birds’ pink coloration comes from pigments in the aquatic organisms that they eat.
Flamingo Chick FAQs
We use a nontoxic color on some of the chicks’ heads so that we can tell them apart. Two of the chicks (the oldest and youngest) vary enough in size that we do not need a color to differentiate them from the others. The six chicks hatched between June 28 and July 30.
Hatch dates and identifying color:
July 14 – Purple
July 15 – Pink
July 15 – Green
July 19 – Blue
We cannot tell if they are a boy or a girl by looking at them, instead we test their blood samples to learn their gender. The oldest chick is a male. We are still waiting for the lab results for the other five chicks.
Chicks lose their juvenile gray or white color gradually over a two or three-year period, at which time their pink feathers begin to show.
Flamingo chicks learn to fly after growing their flight feathers at about 11 weeks.
The chicks’ parents live on the zoo’s lake. When the eggs were first laid zookeepers collected them, artificially incubated them, and are now caring for the chicks until they are the big enough to move onto the lake with the other flamingos. We chose to hand-rear the chicks because it offered a higher survival rate for the young birds during a very susceptible time due to wild predators in the park.
While we know it will be within the year, we do not know exactly when it will happen. The chicks need to be large enough to navigate the lake area safely.
We really do not know what made this year different from other years. It could be one simple thing like the weather pattern, or a variety of minor factors including how plants in the exhibit were trimmed and the pollen count this year. Our husbandry and care for the flamingos has not changed and we have not introduced new flock members since the early 2000’s. At this point we are just excited to have chicks and we are investing our time and energy into making sure all their needs are met.
August 17, 2017
In the video below you can see the chicks coming out to meet the visitors! They have grown a lot in a short time.
July 27, 2017
In the video below you can see the younger chicks at first then the older chick in his pool eating solid food, playing with his stick and learning to take a bath.