Flamingo Chick Derek
By Becky Waite
Keeper Becky Waite hand-reared our first ever Caribbean Flamingo chick. Look back at Derek’s story with behind the scenes photos, news and videos.
We love our flamingo group, and were delighted when two eggs were laid in summer 2019. However one egg was infertile and then the second pair stopped incubating about a week too early. Keepers decided to put the egg in an incubator not knowing if it would hatch, but within days the egg started chirping! The chick hatched successfully on 19th August. We had to wait until dna analysis of the egg shell before we knew if she was male or female. This takes time so Becky the keeper who hand-raised her initially gave her the nick-name Derek. We got so used to it, and it was so cute. And with many visitors already calling her Derek, that the name stuck 🙂 You can find out more about our Caribbean Flamingos here
See below for a look back at Derek’s first year!
The latest news is at the top – to see Derek as a chick, please scroll down the page.
19th August 2020
Join us in wishing Derek a very Happy 1st Birthday 🙂
Below Keeper Becky and her daughter wishing Derek a Happy Birthday.
Derek next to a rather special sign to help Derek be a ‘flamingo’ 🙂
6th May 2020
A fun clip of Derek being first to the food buckets before Keeper Izzy had the chance to put them out!
These plasterers buckets are ideal for the flamingos to eat their food from and they are placed inside green wooden surrounds around their enclosure, at least that is if Derek doesn’t get to them first ?
We soak their food in plenty of water so they can sift through the buckets as they eat. It also has the added bonus of ensuring not too many cheeky seagulls get a go!
Many thanks the people who have bought us new buckets from our Amazon Wish List along with everyone that is supporting us right now with donations and items from the list. We are very grateful for you thinking of us at this time Xx
12th April 2020
Wow, look at Derek!
She is a big girl now and stays out all night ?
You can now watch our Flamingo Webcam here
24th March 2020
27th February 2020
Investigating a tree.
19th January 2020
1st January 2020
29th December 2019
See the pink under the wing.
23rd December 2019
Delving into the mud!
DAY 119 – 17th December 2019
Derek out with the main flock this morning looking very regal 🙂
Derek still spending time with Rita.
DAY 118 – 16th December 2019
It has been a little while since we posted an update of Derek. She is doing really well, you can see a big change in colouring with pink starting to show through. These two photos show Derek preening just after some rainfall.
DAY NINETY SEVEN
A nice close up of Derek eating below and below that a close up of her face.
DAY EIGHTY SEVEN
Derek enjoying flapping her wings on the way to the main flock and is feeding now from the adults food bucket!
DAY EIGHTY ONE
Derek is getting beyond her ‘teenage’ looks and every day becoming more of a beautiful flamingo.
DAY EIGHTY ONE
All is going well with Derek. She is gobbling up her food from her special small bucket, as you will see in the video. But is she tall enough to use the big adult bucket? She certainly has a good go and it won’t be long before her neck grows just a bit longer! Meanwhile we’ve added more water to raise the level for her.
Derek is becoming a big grey Flamingo!
Below, spending time with Auntie Rita.
DAY SEVENTY FOUR
Here is Derek standing tall, and now obviously too tall for the pen we built her when she was a little chick. In the next photo you can see Becky removing the pen from the flamingo lawn, Derek interested in the goings on as usual. We are confident that Derek is ready to spend time out and about with the main flock every day when the weather allows.
And below, she may be a little damp but she is loving running around 🙂
DAY SIXTY NINE
Since Wednesday when she had her first session out with the flamingo flock in the pond, Derek has spent a bit of time each day with them. She has a human babysitter every time as she is still learning – one possible hazard is that the lower pond which is much deeper so she could get quickly waterlogged and unable to get out.
Otherwise she is safely enjoying the space and interaction. Rita is always on hand giving her support within the group although she sometimes has to sidestep Derek as she is quite boisterous when she runs to greet her friend.
Interacting with the group, sieving through the water and muddy baths are becoming the norm with every day that goes by.
DAY SIXTY FIVE
She had her run around the lawn and ran up to Rita who was close by as usual, but this time followed her into the top pond which is the muddy lagoon area perfect for flamingo nesting.
After a very quick period of surprise she was delighted with the mud, very quickly mastering the sweeping motion required to filter out the algae just like the adults. As is the way with a flamingo flock, the birds at the top of the pecking order gave her a couple of pecks and she quickly learned to avoid the hassle and give them due respect.
She had gathered quite a crowd of visitors and we were all surprised when she sat down for a full on muddy bath! Well, she is in that period of intensive curiosity and learning and wants to try everything!
This first day Becky watched what Derek was doing and went in and picked her up to put her back in her pen after about half an hour. Derek’s feathers are not yet waterproofed and we don’t want her to get cold, or be away from her food for too long. It was a good introduction to being part of the flock 🙂
DAY SIXTY ONE
Derek still likes to come up close for a cuddle 🙂
Is this the tiniest bit of pink showing in her new wing feathers?
Derek Standing Tall!
A short clip from Keeper Izzy of Derek testing her wings on a her daily walk at the Park.
DAY FIFTY ONE
You can really see how Derek’s beak is taking shape. Flamingos feed with their head upside down. The lower beak is fixed, and the top one is able to move which is the opposite of most birds, but perfectly adapted for upside down eating the way that flamingos do.
DAY FORTY FOUR
Keeper Izzy took Derek on her walk across to her day pen which is on the lawn near the main flamingo flock. On this day Derek suddenly diverted and made a beeline for Auntie Rita! Rita has always taken a big interest in Derek but she seemed to be a bit overwhelmed when they met up close for the first time.
We are sure that they will get on well once Derek calms down ? and Rita will be a good companion and show her how to understand what being a flamingo is all about.
DAY FORTY TWO
Derek has been in quite a bit due to the very poor weather but we went for a walk around the walled garden when there was a break in the rain.
Her new pen is right next to the flamingo group, which were outside this morning. But they have also been inside more than usual at this time of year because of the weather.
So how do you get a 42 day old Flamingo chick to stay still on the scales… erm…
Nope that didn’t work…
Yay! 1113 grams, she is doing really well.
DAY THIRTY EIGHT
Autumn leaves! Feel like I should burst into song and looks like Derek is posing for a calendar 🙂
DAY THIRTY SEVEN
Derek is having a snooze while Auntie Rita looks on 🙂
DAY THIRTY FIVE
Yep, Derek still loves daisies, not that there are many around now. And she is weighing in at almost 700g.
The change to the grey colour seems to be happening faster now.
She is doing great and changing every day. She likes to follow her keepers but is content in her pen as well. When it rains we have a dry place off show and then when the rain stops she can go back to her pen for a while.
Keeper Danni walking Derek back to her pen.
DAY THIRTY FOUR
Today we have a photo of Mum, Dad and Auntie Rita in the nesting area 🙂
Derek is fine out on a showery day. She has a heat lamp in the shelter should she need it, but the days are still quite warm at the moment.
DAY THIRTY TWO
Keepers taking lessons from derek 🙂
Keepers Emily and Danni took Derek on her walk today. Looks like they had some fun!
Looking more like a flamingo every day.
DAY THIRTY ONE
Auntie Rita continues to spend time with Derek and keeping a close eye on her.
Video clip of Derek heading back inside after an afternoon in her pen.
Look at that long shadow!
In this photo you can see the development in the curve on Derek’s beak.
DAY TWENTY NINE
We have noticed that one particular adult flamingo takes a big interest in Derek. Keeper James said she was protective and put her wings up when he was going to the pen, maybe to try to keep him away. This could be a good thing as Derek will have a friend when she is eventually out with the flock. We have identified the adult flamingo (leg ring reads RIT) as a six year old bred at Slimbridge who arrived last year. We are calling her Auntie Rita 🙂
Derek now has a bigger food bucket!
DAY TWENTY EIGHT
Derek is happy to have James as her Keeper for the day!
In this up-close photo you can see that the grey colouring is starting to show. Derek will go all grey before she develops that stunning pink colour at around 2 years old.
DAY TWENTY SEVEN
Today Derek enjoyed a walk around the Park with Keeper Izzy.
Amazing how much taller Derek is getting every day!
DAY TWENTY FIVE
Derek started today at 457g. See one of the photos below detailing her weight over the last few days.
Our Caribbean Flamingo flock are starting to spend more time around Derek’s pen and interact with her which is great news.
Plus visitors can now see her at a distance from the path in the Walled Garden.
Records of Derek’s weight over the last few days.
DAY TWENTY FOUR
Today was my day off and as Derek is now on site at the Park full time, Keepers Izzy and Sarah-Jane took over the care duties. Looks like they were having fun.
DAY TWENTY THREE
Hot off the press: We now know that Derek is in fact female! We have got so attached to the name that we have decided to keep it 🙂
So today started of at 410g again but I’m not surprised as ‘she’ didn’t eat much yesterday daytime as was very distracted and interested in all that was happening outside her pen.
But she is all good and healthy and was running around again during the afternoon show.
She is gaining height every day.
Lovely video of Derek taking a walk through the Park to her pen.
DAY TWENTY TWO
Derek was 410g when being weighed today and spent most of the day in his new pen.
He made a star appearance in the afternoon show and met lots of people in the audience, getting very distracted checking everyone and everything out rather than walking 🙂
Derek is now at the Park full time and should be out walking daily if the weather allows. We will be trying him down on the flamingo lawn in his new pen tomorrow as long as the weather is warm enough and see how things go.
DAY TWENTY ONE
Derek has eaten all the food in the world (and by himself) today. At 398g it is perfect weaning weight and he is a mssive 45cm tall. Growing so fast.
Tomorrow he will be at Paradise Park full time, as up until now, I have taken him home with me overnight and on my days off so I could care for him 24 hours.
But he is at a stage now that he can permanently be at the Park as we start to slowly introduce him to the main flock.
He looks so big in this photo 🙂
Today is the last day of formula feed as he no longer needs it and is feeding well for himself on specialist pelleted food presented in a bowl with water. Weight this morning was 368g and then 380g 12 hours later.
Sunday night is bath night in our house, and Derek was no exception. He really enjoyed himself and was washing for over 5 mins enjoying the sunshine!
We managed to potter in the garden for a good hour today. Walking and checking out all the surroundings. He was not too keen on a low flying helicopter and came running for cover between my legs when that went over.
He is getting much bigger every day and you can see the curve developing in his beak.
He was 314g this morning, so has certainly eaten his weight overnight! Not eating much in the way of formula but mainly pellets now. Down to 2 feeds a day at 6 hours apart.
Due to the showers today we have had to dash in and out to avoid the rain. This didn’t stop him playing with the wet grass and making a dash for the only daisies we have left in our garden!
A very short few seconds of him looking for daisies below.
Derek has been scoffing his pelleted food like there is no tomorrow!
Another quick paddle in the pool today, but mainly practicing his eating with some pellets floating around instead.
The wind was still a bit breezy for him today but it meant Derek could inspect the work that Rex was doing on his pen 🙂
Started the day on 252g and has been for a couple of walks today. Visitors could see him and he was very popular!
His new run is nearly finished but the wind is quite cold at the moment, though he will have a heat lamp installed. We hope to try him in it tomorrow in an off show area, and with luck he can be in the run on the flamingo lawn next week and have some conversations with his fellow flamingos.
Now on 3 feeds a day at 5 hours apart and seems to be eating well. In one feed he ate 39ml which is a record for him.
Much more flapping again today. He likes running around in the wind and is running very fast now, I may have to start running myself just to keep him fit 🙂
We are back on track with a starting weight of 223g.
He has a new behaviour of stomping on the ground with his feet and pecking the grass like the adults do.
We also got a big water bath for him with some warm water which he loved and had a good bathe in.
Tomorrow he should be out in his pen that is currently being made so he can get some more exercise and eventually be on the lawn to meet the main flamingo flock soon.
Derek give us a masterclass in how to shake and preen yourself after a bathe in a pool! 🙂
So we started the day on 197g which was a little less than yesterdays starting weight, however, over night he looks to have had a massive growth spurt!
He as eaten loads today almost double the amount of formula from yesterday so hopefully tomorrows weight will be back on track.
His legs are turning a much darker pink like the adults and he is starting to turn from white to a more light grey colour. And he likes to stretch up high now too.
He is about 35cm tall now.
Today he weighed in at 202g! A very big milestone!
Now on 4 feeds a day at 4 hours apart and with a mixture of his micro pellets that he has been eating for a while, and his proper flamingo pellet which are much bigger.
He has also moved from a brooder to a larger box with a heatlamp to keep him warm so he has a little more space to exercise and stretch in between his walks around outside.
He has been busy eating his own food most of the day and morning weigh in was 180g. He has now been cut to 3 1/2 hour feeds and tomorrow he will be on 4 hour feeds as hes not wanting much formula, he is choosing to eat the pellets instead. Good progress 🙂
FIRST PADDLE – Once the rain went away we went out in the garden for his walk around and I popped a shallow dish down so he could get used to paddling. He gradually got braver and braver.
Today he started on 154g and is eating lots for himself now. I have seen him eating throughout the day and as his weight didn’t drop much overnight which is good.
He was also tested using his wings while running 🙂 Super cute video clip below.
134g this morning which is great and he is growing well. I have seen him occasionally picking up pellets and managing to eat a few of them.
This has to be one of my favourite photos so far. Taken by Director Alison Hales, it captures him just before he tries to bite the head off the dandelion.
He is on 100% formula now and is starting to play with his food a little. Have not seen him eating any but he is picking it up.
Vet Paul Hall was at the Park today on his regular visit. He checked over the chick but really it was more of a cuddle as he could quickly see that there were no veterinary problems that needed his attention. He passed with flying colours, sounds healthy and looks bright and is developing very well. The vet was very impressed with his running!
Today he decided to be a bit fussy re food and wasn’t as keen to eat his first two feeds. Not over worried as he’s still putting on weight but I was able to talk to Simon Matthews at Slimbridge Wetland Centre (previously at Chester Zoo and he has volunteered at Paradise Park in the past too). He has hand-reared flamingo chicks himself and suggested that skipping a feed would encourage our little Derek to get back to fully guzzling down his food again.
This I did and at 3pm he was much better, and his weight is up to 122g. Very grateful for the advice and it seems to have done the trick.
We took him out to the flamingo lawn in the Walled Garden to see the initial reaction between the flock and chick. They kept their distance but a good first step and the flock will gradually get used to him and all the noise he is making. You can see the flock in the background of the photo below.
I have now sent off a little bit of the egg shell for dna analysis so we will soon know if our chick is male or female.
Today he started at 97g and now 25ml feeds every 3 hours between 6am-9pm
Plus on a stronger formula (75% formula and 25% water).
Enjoyed a trip outside attacking daisies again! 🙂
Introduced a little food in a bowl in his brooder. He poked at it a few times with his beak but haven’t seen him eating yet.
Plenty of standing on one leg when he is tired. This is the best photo I could get through the brooder without disturbing him.
Weiging in at 91g this morning, and eating well.
He had a good long run just before his lunch feed for a good 20mins. It was in front of Glanmore House in the centre of the Park so a few lucky people managed to see him. Lots more flapping of his wings and much more picking at flowers! Especially white clover and daisys which he is very determind to try and peck at to eat! Small bits of food go in tomorrow so we will see what he makes of them. I think he is more than ready as he is forever pecking at everything!
Derek (my nick-name for him!) started on 82g and 22ml of food first thing! He is preening a lot around his crop and wing areas when he is outside in the sunshine. Plus lots of stretching up high on his feet and he can even stand on one leg and stretch the other out behind him!
This afternoon he has been flapping his little wings inbetween his feeds and following me when walking outside for quite a distance now, although he gets easily distracted by something on the ground like a flower or a bug 🙂
Today the chick is taking trips outside and is standing and wobbly walking and gaining strength!
Over night he had many ‘poops’ and so was very hungry this morning starting with 12ml on his first feed.
He is on feeds every 2 1/2hrs now and is standing for around 10-15 seconds at a time and moving round a little more.
He is also too big to lay down to sleep fully in a large coup cup when I’m transporting him as he’s getting quite tall/long!
I had to change the syringe size from a 1ml to a 5ml as he was eating so quickly! This morning he ate 8ml.
At 10am he was taking little steps and walking around in the brooder.
He is very vocal still and eating well so hopefully he will continue that way!
HATCH DAY 19th August 2019, and DAY ONE
The chick hatched about 1pm and he weighed 77g.
The first night he had two feeds of Dioralyte to rehydrate him and both he took well.
I could hear him calling during the night he is so loud! 🙂
He started on the flamingo formula mixed with water.
75g sprat fillet
75g hard-boiled egg yolk
2 cups of baby porridge
1 tsp bird park essentials (vitamin powder)
1/2 tsp calcivet
This is blended together and passed through a sieve, blended again and then sieved one more time.
Initially the formula is being mixed in different ratios with water depending on his age to ensure it passes through okay.
He had a very strong feed response and ate 3ml on his first proper feed. He is fed every 2 hours at the moment from 6am-10pm.
At 10am he was trying to stand on his feet, up until now he had been lifting himself up but not to his feet.
By 8pm he could stand for a few seconds.
Not long after hatching and a dab of iodine where its yolk sac joined
Both parents were hatched at Chester Zoo in July 2002, so are 17 years old.
They came to Paradise Park in 2004. This egg was laid on 20th July and hatched on 19th August, so took 31 days to incubate.
Due to the parents having stopped incubating the egg a few days before it was due to hatch, we stepped in and put the egg in an incubator.
Today (day before hatching) we can here loud chirping from inside the egg.