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FLAMINGOS

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CHILEAN FLAMINGO

  • Scientific name: Phoenicopterus chilensis
  • Distribution: Peru and Uruguay to Tierra del Fuego - South America

CONSERVATION STATUS

Special Concern

SUMMARY

Certainly one of the most picturesque and beautiful of the world's birds.

Flamingos' necks and legs are longer in proportion to their bodies than those of any other species. They have long sinuous necks and extremely long slender legs.

Plumage is pale in colour, with darker pink and black wings.

Pink colouring comes from a pigment the bird consumes.

The word flamingo comes from the Latin word for flame. Egyptians worshipped the flamingo as the living embodiment of the Sun God Ra. Romans considered flamingo tongue to be a delicacy!

They are sometimes called firebirds because many species prefer to frequent hot, volcanic mud flats.

There are three different species of flamingo at the Park ~ Chilean, Lesser and Caribbean, numbering well over a hundred in total.

Our Chilean colony has been breeding successfully since 1982 and surplus stock has been exported around the world to set up new breeding programmes.

REPRODUCTION

Flamingos breed during the months of March through to July. Nests are constructed of mud and the female lays one egg, which she and the male incubate for one month. During incubation, flamingos straddle the nest, placing their long legs either side of it. The egg is elongate and chalky white and the yolk is blood red. The chicks are born grey with a straight bill, the upper mandible with a slight hook. The young chicks are fed by their parents by regurgitation. They are agile, good at running and swimming from an early age.

FOOD HABITS

Flamingos use their long legs to stir up mud. They then use their beaks to strain food out of the muddy mixture. In the wild they eat diatoms, seeds, blue-green algae, a few crustaceans and molluscs. At the Park they are fed a special high-protein diet to maintain their pink colouration.

BEHAVIOUR

Flamingos are social creatures, living and breeding in very large colonies.