Wednesday, July 1, 2020

FLAMINGOS

First of all, Happy Canada Day to all my friends in the north.  May it be a very happy one for you all.
It's also National Zoo Day, and thank you Sandra from Madsnapper for letting me know that.  I didn't realize what day it was when I started posting my zoo posts.  I have one more coming up tomorrow.

More photos from another zoo.  We were in Honolulu at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009.  There was a flock of flamingos to greet us as we made our way through the entrance. Extraordinary birds don't you think, with their long legs and the most interesting looking beaks? They are equipped with a feeding system unlike any bird on earth, and their beaks have evolved to skim tiny algae from the water's surface.

I read there are six species of flamingos, all of which come from rather harsh, inhospitable environments. Some species live on frozen windswept saline lakes at high altitudes in the Andes mountains, while others nest on caustic alkaline mud flats that contain boiling mud pots erupting from volcanic fissures.


At the time of our visit and not sure if this is still the case obviously, the Honolulu Zoo had two species, the American (or Caribbean) from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and the Lesser Flamingo from East Africa, the Middle East and India. The American Flamingo is certainly the most colorful and well known, and the kind that greeted us at the Zoo.


Their beautiful color is acquired from their diet. The small crustaceans and algae that the flamingos eat contain carotenoid and other natural pigments that are processed in the body and deposited in the growing feathers. (Carotene is one of the most common carotenoid pigments and is what makes Carrots and other vegetables orange in color.) Only specific red chemical compounds will color Flamingos. This means that you can't turn a Flamingo blue by feeding it blue colored food.


Flamingoes are very social birds and will not nest unless there are a number of other flamingos present. Usually there is a "critical mass" of birds that is needed to initiate breeding and smaller flocks tend not to breed as well as larger ones. During the breeding season, group behavior is very important to get the entire flock "in the mood" for breeding and synchronize the production of eggs.

Although Flamingos are extremely social, they spend quite a bit of time fighting with each other. These are usually only noisy squabbles and pecking skirmishes, and never cause any damage or harm. When nesting you can see that each nest is placed exactly one neck length away from its neighbor, just within arguing distance. The most disastrous consequence of all this fighting is broken or "scrambled eggs!"


Flamingos build a very interesting nest. Since they nest on barren mud flats, there is nothing else to build a nest from except the mud itself. The mud is piled up one mouthful at a time till it forms a tall 1 to 3 foot cone with a shallow indentation in the top for the single egg. The tall nest is a hedge against rising waters that may wash away the eggs and the height keeps the egg and chick off the hot searing alkaline floor of the mud flat. There can be a 20 to 30 degree temperature difference from the hot ground and the top of the nest!


At the time of writing, the Honolulu Zoo flock numbered 19 birds. Most of these birds were quite old and could be considered geriatric. All but 5 of the birds were adults in 1968 when they arrived at the Zoo. That makes most of the flock over 30 years old. That is not exceptional for a flamingo, but since these were adult birds when they arrived, they could have been 10 to 20 years old or older. Four of the five other birds were born at Sea World of California in 1989.


The youngest bird in the flock was Sherman, and was the only Flamingo to be born at the Honolulu Zoo.  Sherman's egg was laid in 1993 and his parents tried to take good care of it. Unfortunately, one of the Flamingos infamous squabbles ended with Sherman's egg being knocked from its nest and rolled into the pool. When the keepers found the egg the next morning it was cold and wet and it was thought that there would be little chance it would hatch. The determined keepers moved the egg to an incubator and hoped for the best. Miraculously, the egg hatched and the chick was named Sherman.  (I wonder how many more Sherman's have been born at the zoo since our visit back in 2008/2009?)

Raising Sherman was a struggle. Young Flamingos have a very specific diet and the food must be dribbled into their throats like the adult Flamingos do. Sherman also had several medical problems, but with round the clock keeper care, and medical help from the zoo's veterinarians, he pulled through. As he got a bit older, he was taken out to the Flamingo pond every day to mingle with the other birds. Sherman though, prefers to think he is a human. To this day he follows the keepers around and will often lay his head on their shoulder. If you notice a Flamingo marching up and down calling to the visitors with a band on his leg with the number #3 on it, that is Sherman.  (Hopefully Sherman is still entertaining everyone at the zoo.)

All this information was found at the zoo's website.

Thank you for stopping by and 
enjoy the rest of your week.




56 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post today! And I learned a lot, too. Your pictures are stunning! My favorites are the second one of the flamingoes in the sun, and the one with their beaks open.

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    1. Thank you Ginny, fun to learn of your favorite photos. I always enjoy learning of those in particular that blogging friends are drawn to :)

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  2. We have 2 new young giraffes now! They joined the one adult and it's too cute! Hope you return to Honolulu Zoo again in happier times. Aloha

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    1. Thank you for the sweet comment Cloudia. I would love to see the new giraffes. Aloha :)

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  3. I find it fascinating that such beautiful birds originate from such harsh enviroments. And am jealous (very) that my partner has been lucky enough to see them in the wild.

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    1. I am jealous of your partner too my friend. What an incredible experience that must have been :)

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  4. Excelentes fotografias destes belos flamingos.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

    Andarilhar
    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

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    1. Obrigado meu amigo, agradeço seu comentário. Um abraço e uma boa semana continuada para você também :)

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  5. Hello, Love the beautiful Flamingos. Love the Sherman story. Have a great day!

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    1. Hello Eileen, happy you enjoyed. Sherman's story was very touching when I read it. You have a great day also :)

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  6. Hello Denise,
    What a wonderful pictures.
    Great to see these beautiful flamingos in beautiful graceful poses.
    You have photograph them very well.

    Greetings, Marco

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    1. Hello Marco, how lovely to meet you and welcome. I appreciate your kind comments. Greetings from me also :)

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  7. They certainly are colourful and I'm intrigued with them.
    Never seen one in reality.

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    1. Thank you Margaret :) I have only seen them in zoos, usually near the entrance at the ones I have been to.

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  8. So you're beautiful post about the zoo were all before you knew that today is National Zoo day worked out really well and I'm loving all your pictures no. I did learn some new things from reading the post although I knew a lot of them because we have a huge Flamingo flock only 10 miles from us and I used to go there at least twice a year because we can hand feed them you put the food they give you out in your hand and they eat out of your hand and I love to go look at them and the babies are absolutely adorable they're white

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    1. Yes Sandra, thanks to you as I really didn't know. Or perhaps I knew in my sub conscience. Who knows! An interesting coincidence. I would love to hand feed flamingos, what a fun experience, and to see the babies.

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  9. I was in Waikiki in 2008, because my house was being fumigated. For some reason, we did not go to the Zoo. What a pity. I love looking at flamingos.

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    1. I loved them too Gigi :) You have so many beautiful places in Hawaii. I have fond memories from my trips there, and of the zoo.

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  10. Thank you for the nod to Canada Day! Happy July 4th to you! Flamingos are such gorgeous birds. The detailed information you’ve given was a good read. Unfortunately, the only kind I see in my neck of the woods are plastic, put out on lawns for birthdays. :)

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    1. Hello Penelope :) You are very welcome! I am very fond of our northern neighbors. My experiences in Canada have always been wonderful ones. Great memories! Yes, we have seen plastic lawn flamingos also on my travels, both local and further afield. I have been tempted but our HOA is very strict about such things. I know I would get 'the letter', lol.

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  11. Flamingos are my favorite photography subjects at a zoo. They don't hide from you, they are not behind glass, bars, or a net and they are so colorful!!

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    1. They are fun Yogi and agree with everything you say :)

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  12. Thanks for the Happy canada day greeting. For my bird watching group one standard joke is, "I saw a pink flamingo." Of course, there are no flamingos here.

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    1. You are very welcome Red, hope you had a wonderful one. I like the joke :)

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  13. I love these birds! And, Denise, your photos are stellar!

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  14. Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing. Hope all is well over there. Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane, all is well considering. Hope the same for you :)

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  15. Thanks for a post with colorful photos and great information about flamingoes, Denise. I too have always enjoyed seeing them whenever we've visited a zoo, which now seems like so long ago. I did know about the food they eat giving them their coloration which was most interesting to learn.

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    1. Thank you Dorothy, happy you enjoyed. They are certainly very interesting birds but then so much in nature is the same way.

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  16. Thanks for sharing this interesting information, I know a bit more about flamingos now!

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    1. You are very welcome Christine, glad you enjoyed :)

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  17. It really is amazing the variety of animals that God created for us to enjoy. Thanks for all the info!

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  18. Lovely to see all of your flamingo photographs here.

    Happy Canada Day to all who celebrate.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan, I enjoyed coming across them again. All the best to you too :)

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  19. Yes, flamingo Lagoon is a great place to watch people and birds!

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    1. I had forgotten it was called Flamingo Lagoon, thanks Cloudia :)

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  20. The only time I've seen real live flamingoes I couldn't believe they really are as beautiful as they look in all the pictures. My son, who is used to seeing them, thought my enchantment was entertaining. Thanks for all the information about them.

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    1. You are very welcome Pauline. How wonderful that you saw them living wild and free. I would have been enchanted also :)

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  21. Oh, Denise, I LOVED the story of Sherman the flamingo. You have some beautiful pics of all of them, and wonderful information.

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    1. So glad Rose :) Glad you enjoyed this post, thank you :)

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  22. My goodness, Denise, what a great post about flamingos! I enjoyed hearing about darling Sherman! Wouldn't that make a darling children's story? Your photos are extraordinary!

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    1. Happy you enjoyed these flamingos Martha Ellen. Sherman's story certainly would make a very special children's story. Thank you :)

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  23. Oh gosh! I can’t remember the last time we were at the zoo. Those are fabulous photos, Denise. I can picture where you took the photo and it now makes me want to go. They have two new giraffe additions there now. Your photos are stunning!

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    1. Thank you Kay, it has been years since I went to the zoo. I certainly would love to come back and see those new giraffes :)

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  24. I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have seen four species of flamingo in the wild. They are among the most enigmatic of birds.

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    1. How wonderful David! It even makes me happy when I learn my blogging friends have seen them in the wild. Fantastic :)

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  25. Sad, I have never seen a flamingo. Thank goodness you are around to enlighten me.

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  26. They are remarkable birds. Except Sherman. He is a remarkable human!

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    1. A lovely way of putting it Sandi :) Thank you!

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