This Borders garden is a real flamingo land

SBBN Oxton bird garden to take Chilean flamingos
SBBN Oxton bird garden to take Chilean flamingos

Borders birdlife is about to receive some glamorous guests in a bid to revive the fortunes of the endangered Chilean flamingo.

Specialist bird keepers have launched a funding project to bring Chilean flamingos to the Oxton Pottery and Bird Garden, already home to emus, wallabies, sheep and over 50 species of rare birds.

Mark Haillay and Owen Joiner aim to hand rear flamingo eggs over the autumn and winter of this year.

Chilean flamingos are classified as threatened which means that their numbers in the wild are dropping, raising concerns for their future as a species. Populations are held in zoos around the world as a safety net should the situation deteriorate and the project is designed to become part of these conservation efforts

Owner and bird expert Owen Joiner said: “It’s not an easy task – the chicks require syringe feeding every two hours, mimicking the way both parents would feed them. However, I have previously reared 29 chicks in this way and we’re keen to recreate that success here in Oxton.

“So we have the skills, the experience and the dedication – what we don’t yet have is the rearing facility and this is what we’re asking for help with.

“We have successfully secured volunteers to help us to build the specialist rearing unit, what we’re asking people to provide via our crowdfunding page is the funds to purchase the materials to build it.”

He continued: “As our gardens are free to enter, funders will be able to follow the progress of the chicks in person throughout their journey into adulthood and of course, they’ll be able to see them for years to come as the flock will remain with us, growing each year as the facility is used to its full potential.”

Of the six species of flamingo, the Chileans tend to lay their eggs later in the year, which causes some issues due to the comparative lack of sunlight at that time.

By the time the chicks hatch in late summer or the early autumn, there is insufficient sunlight in the following months to ensure the chicks develop strong and well-formed bones, essential for these birds which can live for up to 60 years.

The solution is to hand rear the chicks, providing them with humidity controlled incubators, vitamin rich food and specialist lighting which emits UVb rays, ensuring the chicks grow up with good strong bones, especially in their trademark super long legs.

The aim is to get a flock above the ‘magic number’ of 40, which Owen says allows them to behave in a natural and confident way.

To donate visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk, and search “Flamingo chick”.