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Record number of flamingo chicks hatch in Spain

Heavy rain and hot weather provide perfect conditions for breeding.

In the small town of Fuente de Piedra, flamingoes are everywhere.

It's breeding season in the wetland which is about 70kilometres north of Malaga in southern Spain, and the season has delivered a bumper crop.

This year's abundant rain has given perfect conditions for breeding. Rain helps the birds find the sticks, stones, mud and feathers which are used to build their nests, and also helps to increase their food supply.

When there is a drought, flamingos are known to be less likely to mate.

Flamingos are about six-years-old when they are ready to start mating. The birds usually pair off, to build nests, incubate the egg and raise the chick together.

Fuente de Piedra natural reserve is home to the largest colony of flamingos on the Iberian Peninsula and is one of the largest in Europe.

Every year, hundreds of volunteers take part in what is known as the 'bird ring' - where the chicks are rounded up, tagged, weighed and checked before being set free.

A metal and a plastic ring are fitted to the flamingo's legs so their growth and progress can be studied in years to come.

This tagging has provided some interesting information onthe birds. It has been discovered that flamingos can live to a ripe old age and there are some that are as old as 40 and are still successfully breeding.

Flamingos begin to arrive at the wetland in April. Some 37,000 flock here to breed, and currently about 2,500 chicks have hatched, according to natural reserve data.

2018 marks the 35th anniversary since the wetland was included in the Ramsar convention, which lists the most important lagoons worldwide.


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