July 16, 2012
Pink’s the thing in the Bahamas, where the Caribbean flamingos of Inagua National Park have produced a bumper crop of chicks this year. In June, WCS veterinarians and Bronx Zoo bird experts joined a crew of international researchers to band the juvenile birds, and give them health check-ups. The group also taught local students about Caribbean flamingo conservation, and trained community members to conduct future banding projects.
Led by Dr. Nancy Clum, Bronx Zoo Curator of Birds, the researchers attached ID bands to 198 juvenile flamingos, and took their measurements. The bands will allow for long-term monitoring of the birds, as experts track their movements to different breeding colonies throughout the Caribbean. The WCS veterinary team, led by Dr. Bonnie Raphael, performed health assessments on 47 of the flamingos, drawing blood samples and conducting genetic testing as part of a regional flamingo study. They also obtained other samples, including mouth swabs, to determine possible exposure to avian diseases.
In total, the field team included 29 participants from five countries representing the Bahamas National Trust, Morton Salt, SeaWorld Orlando, Niños y Crías, Ardastra Gardens, Fort Worth Zoo, and the Bonaire Department of Environment and Nature. Susan Sheridan, the International Flamingo Foundation, Morton Salt (Bahamas), and Bryan Construction supported their work.