Spring is in the air, it's breeding time at Paignton Zoo - and time to learn some little know facts about flamingos.
As the days become longer, nature rejuvenates and birds come alive with new-born neurons as the breeding season commences.
Why do birds have an extra spring in their step at this time of year? Why is their song more amplified or why are their moves more advanced?
The zoo has undertaken many studies into this phenomenon and has unearthed some unusual flamingos findings.
Steve Nash, Curator of Birds at the zoo, says: “As the days lengthen and the UVA levels strengthen, it triggers an instinctive response in birds to breed. Our male flamingos demonstrate this through the power of dance. They dance to attract a female mate and it’s estimated that older male flamingos have a repertoire of over 130 different moves including ‘the head flag’, the ‘wing salute’, the ‘inverse wing salute’, and the ‘wing-leg stretch’ among many others.
"It’s also not just dance moves that attract the ladies. Female flamingos will select a mate based on how pink he is. The more pink a male is, the more desirable he becomes.”
The colour of flamingo’s feathers is linked closely with their food. A pinker male flamingo is able to show that they’re better at foraging. This shows to females that they would be a great choice of mate as both partners play a role in feeding their chick. When rearing chicks both parents produce a red coloured ‘crop milk’ to feed their baby. Because they have to feed themselves as well as their baby, parent flamingos become paler as the chick gets older. In other words, rearing young literally drains the colour out of flamingos.
Once the breeding season is over, the zoo is hopeful for flamingo chicks later this year. Females typically lay one egg and it takes arounds 30 days to hatch.
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