Both birds and humans are beaming with pride over the new arrivals at Tracy Aviary, a trio of Chilean flamingos that hatched this week.
The baby birds whose sex will be determined later through genetic tests are bonding with their parents at the aviary in Salt Lake City's Liberty Park under the watchful eyes of a flock of 20 adult flamingos.
The excitement is evident in the way the parents carefully shelter the little ones at the flamingo pond and the anxious squawking that breaks out when one rolls out of its nest of mud.
"There's a lot of bickering that goes on," said aviary curator Jennifer Evans, adding that the birds will fight over nests and eggs. "There's a lot of drama."
The three flamingos came into being with a little help. The aviary hatched its first chick in 2008, then another in 2009, before hitting a dry spell.
So this year, staffers gathered the flamingos' eggs and put them in an incubator. During the incubation period, the staffers provided dummy eggs real eggs filled with plaster for the birds to sit on, then switched them for the real thing when the babies began to breathe the air inside the egg.
The parents didn't necessarily have to be genetically related to the egg. An aviary team observed the 20 adult flamingos to determine which ones had the best potential to rear a chick, then placed the eggs in their nests. (Male and female flamingos both sit on eggs.)
The chicks began bonding right away, "talking" in a high-pitched squeak to their parents even before they left the egg, Evans observed. And on Monday and Tuesday, with the help of their parents, the three birds hatched. They were welcomed warmly into the flamingo community one of the young birds is being raised by two females and a male.
Hatched white, the new arrivals will take a few years to turn pale pink, a color change stemming from the food they eat. (Chilean flamingos are lighter than the bright pink Caribbean flamingos.)
Aviary birds generally are not named, Evans said. But there are exceptions for creatures that have a strong personality or stand out for some reason.
More chicks could be on the way. Two more developing eggs are in the incubator and will be returned to their parents soon, she added.
Visit the birds
Liberty Park's Tracy Aviary, 589 E. 1300 South, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through August.