Spring has sprung, summer has begun and love is in the air at SHWP. Everywhere you look, pairs are nesting and babies are hatching. Here is a look at some of our most exciting hatches at the Park…
First and foremost, we are proud to announce the successful hatching of a lesser flamingo chick. This past winter, pairs were enclosed in the exhibit’s breeding area, a small building located in the back. This "love nest" has proven to be especially important for the successful breeding of lesser flamingos in captivity. The area was thoughtfully designed by our General Curator, Brad Hazelton, to encourage the pairs to nest.
In the wild, flamingos nest in HUGE colonies, sometimes with up to a million birds! So to simulate this huge number in captivity, the walls of the nesting area is lined with mirrors. The nest area itself is composed of a nice muddy area, which the birds work with their beaks and feet to form mud mounds on which they lay a single egg. Temperature, lighting, and humidity were carefully monitored and at the beginning of May, the animal care staff was rewarded for their efforts with the hatching of the Park’s first lesser flamingo chick.
It is very rare for birds to breed the first year in new captive surroundings, and it is a credit to the Sylvan Heights staff that this chick was produced. The chick and its parents are now on display in the main exhibit area and we hope you all get a chance to stop by and get a closer look!
Also, a pair of masked lapwings (Vanellus miles) in our Australia exhibit has successfully hatched 4 eggs. Found throughout northern, central, and eastern Australia, these birds may nest at any time of the year when the conditions are favorable. Both sexes work at building the nest, which is a simple scrape in the ground away from any vegetation. Egg incubation and chick-rearing duties are also shared by both parents. The precocial chicks are able to leave the nest and feed on their own within just a few hours of hatching. To get a look at these tiny and adorable chicks, visit our Australian exhibit, where they can be found wandering close to their parents. But they grow up fast, so don’t wait too long!
The park also has a number of nesting ducks, swans and geese. In particular, the park’s swans have been a big crowd-pleaser. Visitors have enjoyed watching the fuzzy little cygnets that have hatched from our pairs of black-necked swans, whooper swans and black swans. If you happen to see a pair on the water with babies, be sure to check the parent’s back as sometimes the cygnets get a bit sleepy and like to take a little ride!