Thursday, May 1, 2008

Flamingos on the move...

The annual migration for the bird yard birds happened this past Monday. The move is well rehearsed after doing it for more years than I can remember, but it never gets any easier. The keepers round up the birds from their holding pens in the Animal Support Buidling, holding each while they are checked over by the veterinarian, weighed, photographed, and vaccinated. They are then carried up to the bird yard and let go at water’s edge. During their vet check, the flamingos reach their long necks out to bite at anything they can reach. Often when you are working on one flamingo another is behind you biting your hair, nipping at your sweatshirt or honking incessantly in your ear. Or, your own flamingo turns at you and pinches and twists while biting your cheek, arm, or hand. The toughest birds, or at least they think they’re the toughest, are the ruddy ducks. These ducks weigh in at just under a pound, but they think they are the most ferocious. The one female I was holding nibbled at my fingers and hands the entire time I was holding her. If you get a chance, stop by the bird yard to see the 11 Chilean flamingos, 2 red-breasted geese, 4 ruddy ducks, 2 common shelducks, and 3 swan geese. The 6 American flamingos and the 4 White-faced Whistling ducks will get to go out when the weather is a little bit warmer as they are more sensitive to the cold.

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