By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A mini-flock of fluffy flamingos captivated the Rose Garden crowd at the National Aviary Friday morning.

They were introduced to three of five chicks, hatched from late June to early July.

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“We saw a little crack,” said Senior Aviculturist Travis Henderson. “You see that egg. And you can actually hear it. So I listened here, and I hear a little peep, and it’s loud. These guys are like little trumpets in the shell. And we see a tiny crack in the shell. And that’s how you know it’s time. And from that small crack, it’s about two days before he bird gets out of the shell.”

They’ve grown quite a bit since then. But there’s still a long way to go.

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In about 18 months, the chicks will match the adults at the Aviary – about 57 inches in height. They’ll also turn pink, a color that results from their daily diet off algae, small fish, and crustaceans. The chicks will be on public display each morning and afternoon. And, for an extra fee, visitors can take part in Flamingo Encounters.

“You get to come into this fantastic tent here,” Henderson said, “and you’ll sit down around me or one of my colleagues, and the birds will actually come up to you. They’ll interact with you. You’ll get a chance to feel them. Feel their feathers. Their unique legs and their feet. These are fascinating birds.”

Flamingo Encounters benefit the birds by giving them exercise, and helping them learn to socialize.

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