Exciting new hatches
22 May 2020
Flamingo, crane and corncrake chicks hatch!
This week has been exciting with new hatches of flamingo, Eurasian cranes, and the first corncrake chicks, all being reared by their parents. The different species have very different rearing strategies.
Parent flamingos, cranes and corncrakes all feed their chicks initially, unlike ducks and geese, where the parents lead the young to suitable areas to find food.
Flamingos produce a substance called crop milk in their digestive tracts and regurgitate it to feed their young. Crop milk is extremely high in protein and fat, just what a growing chick needs. Both parents will share the feeding, for around three months, until the shape of the bill changes and the chick can then manage filter feeding alone (pictured above, credit: Kat MacPherson). Keep an eye out on our social media for video updates on how the new chick is progressing.
Both crane parents will also feed their chick, offering it a variety of worms, and insects. The chick will learn from its parents to forage for itself, but they may continue to offer it food for several months, and a crane chick will stay with its parents until the following breeding season.
The female corncrake alone is responsible for brooding and rearing corncrake chicks. She may hatch up to 10 chicks, who are initially fed, much the same as a coot or moorhen (members of the same family), but will be completely independent from their mother within about two weeks!
It’s amazing that by the end of the summer the corncrakes independently fly to their wintering grounds in southern Africa, and return the following spring. We have had our first returns reported this year, where the corncrake male can be heard singing out from a field he has decided is a good area. Below is a picture of a returning bird snapped cleverly by the farmer who is very keen on conservation and thrilled to have a signing corncrake.