National Geographic : 1909 May
450 THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE YOUNG FLAMINGO EATING SHELL O1 THE EGG FROM WHICH IT WAS HATCHED "The young stay in the nest until they are three or four days old. During this time they are brooded by the parents, one or the other of which is always in attendance. With a bill as large as their nestling's body, it was of special interest to observe how the latter would be fed. The operation is admirably shown on the opposite page. What in effect is regurgitated clam broth, is taken drop by drop from the tip of the parent's bill. This is the young bird's first meal. His next attempts at eating are of special interest. It will be observed that the bill in a newly hatched flamingo bears small resemblance to the singular, decurved organ of the adult. In the chick the bill is short and straight, with no hint of future curvature; and at this stage of its existence the bird feeds in a manner wholly unlike that employed by the old birds. It picks up its food. The second meal, then, consists of bits of the egg-shell whence the chick has lately emerged. When the bird is about thrce weeks old the bill first shows signs of convexity, and the bird now feeds after the singular manner of the adult, standing on its head, as it were, the maxilla, or upper half of the bill, being nearly parallel with the ground. Contrary to the rule among birds, the lower portion of the bill is immovable, but the upper portion, moving rapidly, forces little jets of water from each side of the base of the bill, washing out the sand and the mud through the strainers with which the sides of the bill are beset, and leaving the shells on which the bird subsists. Or, as Peter expressed it: 'It seems to me, sir, when de fillymingo feed dat de upper lip do all de wuk, sir, when he chomp, chomp, chomp, and grabble in de mud.' "-FRANK M. CHAPMAN.