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Chilean Flamingos get creative with nest building

Posted on 19 Aug 2019

Martin Mere’s flock of Chilean Flamingos have been very busy in recent weeks building their impressive nests, but not where staff and volunteers expected. Despite having a large, open enclosure with plenty of sand and mud – materials typically used by flamingos – the flock have opted instead to build their nests out of stone.

Keepers first spotted the mounds on an area of stone that is usually used for direction signs around the ground. Whilst they at first thought they were just man-made heaps, it quickly became apparent that something else was at work here. Wardens loaded a camera onto a nearby post to see what was going on whilst the centre was closed and when watching the footage, it become immediately clear that our Chilean Flamingos had been keeping themselves very busy overnight!

Cameras captured almost the entire flock working continuously from 7pm until around 5.30am the following morning, picking up the stones one by one with their beaks to build the impressive mounds. This behaviour is a first for the flock at Martin Mere and so wardens are keen to follow the progress closely to discover more about these amazing animals.

The Chilean Flamingos at Martin Mere don’t have a very successful breeding rate as they typically build nests too late in the year for the UK seasons. Flamingo chicks need at least 12 hours of daylight in their first few months of life to be able to grow at a healthy rate. They rely on their parents to be fed crop milk, but the parents won’t feed after dark. If the Chilean Flamingos did lay eggs on their stone nests, wardens would place these in our on-site incubation facility to give them a fighting chance, and any chicks that hatch would need to be hand reared to give them the best chance of survival.

Visit us this week to see the nests for yourself. Our Bionic Bugs event is on until 1 September – pick up a FREE activity book when you arrive and complete as many of the 8 bug themed activities as you can. For full details about our summer event, visit our GIANT Bionic Bugs event page.