Soul singer helps put birds in mood for love

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THE SENSUAL soundtrack of Barry White and other amorous tunes has helped a pair of flamingos to do what comes naturally at a local zoo.

Staff at Drusillas in Alfriston have played the music to encourage breeding among the Chilean flamingos

It appears the music has paid off with the arrival of two perfect eggs.

The flamingos arrived in 1982 and despite many notable breeding successes throughout the years, there has not been a successful hatching since 2009.

This year the zoo was determined to break the cycle and over the last few months they have tried all manner of ways to encourage the birds’ natural courtship behaviours.

To get them in the mood the team began by playing them soothing love songs, including Manfred Mann’s Pretty Flamingo, Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings and seduction songs of love lyricists Barry White and Marvin Gaye. The mega mix was played alongside pre-recorded mating vocalisations of Chilean flamingos attained from Zoo Atlanta, in Georgia.

The keepers also placed mirrors in the enclosure to create the illusion of a fuller flock and supplemented their diet with extra protein.

Their hard work finally paid off when the flamingos began courtship displays, which include head swinging, loud vocalisations and spreading their wings to reveal their brightly coloured feathers beneath. This was closely followed by the arrival of two freshly laid eggs on May 9 and 14, which are likely to hatch next month following an incubation period of approximately 28 days.

Zoo manager Sue Woodgate said, “Chilean flamingos are native to western South America where populations are threatened mainly due to water pollution, interference in their wetland habitats, as well as human activity near breeding sites.

“We are thrilled that the flamingos have laid two eggs. We are keeping our fingers crossed for successful hatching and chick rearing of these beautiful birds.”