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North Hills Monthly

Month-old Flamingos Make Their Debut at the National Aviary

Jul 31, 2017 08:37PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

On July 21, five American Flamingo chicks made their public debut at the National Aviary, but a lot of people may not have recognized them. Instead of the bright pink color that is normally associated with the statuesque bird, baby flamingos have light, downy grey and white feathers that won’t change color until they’re about a year old. 

The National Aviary’s flamingos arrived as eggs from the Columbus Zoo, and each took about two days to hatch, chatting all the while. “They were like little trumpets in the shell,” explained Travis Henderson, senior aviculturist, who said that young chicks call out all the time so that their parents can keep track of them within the flock.

The gender of the chicks, which were born between June 25 and July 9, can’t be established without a DNA test, so feathers from each bird are sent off to a lab where their sex is determined. Insatiable eaters, the chicks are fed a mix of eggs and oil, and grow extremely fast; they reach full size in about 18 months. Their pink color comes from the algae, diatoms, small fish and crustaceans they eat, all of which have high concentrations of carotenoid pigments.

Because flamingos are naturally charismatic and social, the National Aviary plans to use the hand-raised birds as educational ambassadors for their species. If their debut is any indication, these babies were born for the job. 

If you act quickly, you can still see the chicks before they get much bigger. The National Aviary offers daily flamingo talks where you can learn more about the birds, and you can also book an up-close encounter ($40) to have a one-on-one interaction with the birds and aviary staff. To learn more, call 412-258-9445. 

Learn more about all the National Aviary by visiting