Friday, September 3, 2010

Flamingo Friday: Please, Sir, I Want Some More

Remember when the flamingelehs were flamingelehs indeed, little and fuzzy and incapable of feeding themselves? I do, too—it’s not so hard, after all, since it was only two months ago.

I did some admittedly less-than-rigorous online research and found that most young flamingos are only fed crop-milk by adults for the first month or so of their lives, after which they have to go around straining their food like big birds. (I wonder if that’s how adult flamingos encourage their young to feed: “That’s right, strain it all up! That’s my BIG bird! Keep ingesting those carotenoids, kiddo, and soon you’ll be pink just like me!”)

—So imagine my surprise when I saw one of these great hulking adolescents making its cheeping, begging noise and raising its beak pleadingly up to an adult. And imagine my further surprise when, after a bit of stalling, the adult actually fed her!

At first it seemed as if the young one was just hanging on to the adult’s closed beak—an expression of desperate hope—but eventually the adult’s beak opened enough to transfer crop milk to her beak.

(By the way, this pleading/feeding was done by #29, the slightly younger flamingeleh who, I’m convinced, is showing more resistance to having to grow up.)

And the accuracy of my research on the subject of flamingo crop-milk feeding (and when it should stop) was supported by the presence of a zoo volunteer (one of those who observes the Kori Bustards’ behavior) who was just as surprised as I was to witness this.

Maybe I’ll write it up for Science or Nature: “Occurrence of a Peter-Pan Syndrome in Zoo-Dwelling American Flamingos.” Or maybe not.

That’s all for now; today I’ll be wandering the zoo with Patti Abbott, an excellent writer of terrific—and alarmingly dark and disturbing—short stories and novels and the author of a superb (and much less alarming) blog. Stay tuned for our adventures.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

Wish I were with you! And today's blog was inspired!

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a treat to go to a zoo with you. Wish I could do it every week.

Unknown said...

I must say, I feel the poor adolescent flamingo's pain ... to not grow up. That sounds really nice!

(I've figured out how to post! Yea for me!)

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