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Chilean Flamingo

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Chilean flamingo
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Ciconiiformes
Family
Phoenicopteridae
Genus Species
Phoenicopterus (crimson red winged) ruber (red) chilensis (of Chile)

Fast Facts

Description
The Chilean flamingo is a tall, large bodied bird with a long neck and small head. Most flamingos, including this species, have pale pink plumage and bills. This subspecies of flamingo is slightly smaller than the Caribbean flamingo and has gray legs with pink bands at the joints.
Size
Approximately 80–145 cm (31–57 in.) long
Females tend to be smaller than males
Weight
Approximately 1.9–3 kg (4.2–6.6 lbs)
Diet
Includes algae, diatoms, aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans and mollusks
Incubation
26–31 days
Clutch Size
Usually 1 large egg
Fledging Duration
Approximately 11 weeks
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 6 years
Life Span
In the wild, up to 50 years
Range
South America, from Chile to Argentina
Habitat
Inhabits tropical and warm climates, both along the coast and at high altitudes
Population
Global: 200,000 or fewer individuals
Status 
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Lower risk/ Near threatened

Fun Facts

  1. In many languages, the word flamingo (originally derived from the Portuguese language meaning 'red goose') is a reference to their flying style formation and the noise they make.
  2. All flamingos feed with their bills upside-down. They tip their head into the water and filter feed, using special hair like adaptations in the top half of their bill, to gather the microorganisms that make up their diet.
  3. Flamingos are an ancient group of birds. Their fossil records dates back to the Miocene epoch, which is about 10 million years ago.
  4. Flamingos are not born with their beautiful pink plumage. Their color comes from the carotenoid pigments they consume as part of their diet. Some scientists believe that a flamingo's success in breeding relies on its bright color.
  5. Both the male and female make the nests by scooping mud together with their feet and bill.
  6. Both male and female adults, provide their young with a type of milk called crop milk.
  7. Like other South American flamingos, these birds are able to endure cold temperatures.
  8. For more information about flamingos, explore the Flamingo InfoBook.

Ecology and Conservation

Flamingos have few natural predators because they live in remote, inhospitable places.

Their mostly alkaline diet does not fit the needs of other animals. By eating the smallest of organisms, they not only keep watering holes productive, they also help circulate the waters by turning over the mud and silt on the bottom of rivers, streams, and ponds.

Their uses to man are unfortunately the flamingo's greatest problem. In the past, their tongues were a rare, pickled delicacy and their plumage was sometimes sought for its vibrant color. However, as with most animals, habitat destruction and exploitation is by far the flamingo's greatest challenge.


Bibliography

Austin, O. L. Birds of the World. Golden Press, New York. 1961.

Harrison, C.J.O. and Perrins, C. Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. Reader's Digest Association, Inc., New York. 1987.

Perrins, C. and A. Middleton. The Encyclopedia of Birds. Facts on File Publications, New York. 1985.

SeaWorld Education Department Publication. Flamingos. Sea World, Inc. 1994.