First ever flamingo eggs at Pensthorpe

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9 Sep 2019

Tickled pink at the arrival of flamingo eggs

We are tickled pink at the arrival of the first flamingo eggs here at Pensthorpe – the first in the 15 years since we have had Greater Flamingo here.

After we welcomed another 20 new birds last year to our previous flock of 29, it was our hope that by becoming a bigger flock they would eventually breed, so we are all thrilled that doubling their numbers has produced this result.  

Experts say that the ‘magic number 40’ can help to boost breeding rates amongst flamingos. Simply put, the larger the flock (technically referred to as a ‘flamboyance’), the more likely the birds are to lay!

The first egg was laid by a 14-year old female flamingo and the egg has been carefully swapped for a wooden ‘dummy’ egg in order to protect it, and is now being nurtured and cared for during the incubation process. Since then our flamingos seem to have got the hang of things and have laid more eggs. We all have our fingers crossed as we have to wait to find out if any of the eggs are fertile.

We have done a lot of work to their enclosure to give them more space and encourage good breeding conditions as part of our Wetland Discovery Area development which opened last summer. The flamingos now reside in a splendid purpose-built habitat, illustrative of tropical lagoons more commonly found in southern Spain. The design for our enclosure includes allowing areas for breeding and specially designed winter quarters.

We caught up with our Head of Species Management, Chrissie Kelley, who said: “Flamingos are wonderful birds and we have a great flock of them now at Pensthorpe. Obviously breeding conditions depend on many factors including the size and space of the enclosure and the ratio of males to females, but having 49 birds has presented a really exciting opportunity to see the possibility of having our own baby flamingos hatching in the Wensum Valley! We all hope that the eggs are fertile and that more eggs will be laid in the future.”

If all goes to plan, the egg will be returned to the nest shortly before hatching.

Flamingos build their nests out of mud, stones and feathers, creating small conical mounds on the ground. We’ve noticed that our flamingos here at Pensthorpe have continued to build their nests after the eggs have been laid. Flamingos tend to lay just one egg that hatches after a 30-day incubation period.

Did you know? When hatched, flamingo chicks are grey and won’t reach their full mature distinctive colouration until three years of age.

Watch the video footage of our flamingos here