The young greater flamingos are growing up fast and are actually starting to resemble what a flamingo looks like now. Although they have their dirty grey plumage, which they will keep for a while, they are definitely more “flamingo shaped”. All three chicks have settled in well into the new Flamingo Lagoon exhibit and can be seen hanging out on the fringes of the main flock, with other juvenile birds from previous breeding seasons.
This is perfectly normal flamingo behaviour; youngsters will generally take themselves away from the adult groups and remain with other young birds or, in some cases, alone until they attain their mature pink plumage. The young lesser flamingo, opposite the flock of greaters, can be seen to do this a lot. This bird will often appear as a proper “Billy no mates” and be standing, feeding or resting away from the main body of birds. Information from the wild is limited but several reports show that young flamingos to have limited social interaction with adults.
However, the parent birds are still responsible for feeding the chicks from time to time, and the chicks will incessantly follow around their parents around begging for food. This begging behaviour can be observed at WWT Slimbridge as, presently, the greater flamingo chicks are “of that age” where a lot of begging is occurring, a lot of chasing is harassing parents, and a lot of squealing youngsters are charging around.
Flamingo weaning is a long-winded affair. Specifically accurate data (like most things concerning flamingos!) is hard to find but several people state that chicks can be independent by four months OR can be still fed by the adults at the start of the next year’s breeding season. Either way, chick feeding takes a lot out of the parents and those birds with chicks can be easily identified at the end of the breeding season as they will appear lighter in colour. The adults losing pigment as they produce food for their young.