Avian fireworks

If you’re impatient for the New Year’s fireworks displays, here are some explosions of color in bird form.

Nicobar Pigeon. Photographed at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Nicobar Pigeon. Photographed at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

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Photo sequences: vulture vs. rake; flamingo fight

At the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago recently, I got the chance to see some particularly charismatic birds, including a colony of squabbling flamingos, and Sophia the young Cinereous Vulture. Abandoned as an egg, Sophia was raised by humans—with a vulture puppet—until she was old enough to rejoin her parents.

Sophia the Cinereous Vulture, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

Sophia the Cinereous Vulture, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

The morning I saw her was overcast and cold, but she was in high spirits: a man was raking her enclosure, and while her parents mostly ignored him, Sophia was fascinated. She chased the rake; he shooed her away; she stalked it. “I helped to raise her,” the man said; then, rolling his eyes, “It’s impossible to get anything done with her around.” Eventually he dropped the rake, and Sophia got to investigate.

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