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Chilean Flamingo

Chilean Flamingo


Chilean Flamingo


Chilean Flamingo Range Map (South America)
Chilean Flamingo Range Map (South America)
Latin Name Phoenicopterus chilensis
Conservation Status Near Threatened
Location South America
Colour Pink
Height 1.1 - 1.3 m (3.6 - 4.3 ft)
Wingspan 1.2 - 1.5 m (3.9 - 4.9 ft)
Weight 2.5 - 3.5 Kgs (5.5 - 7.7 lb)
Life Expectancy Up to 50 Yrs (wild)
Up to 40 Yrs (in captivity)

Main Characteristics


Chilean Flamingos are a large species of flamingo. They stand between 1.1 and 1.3 m (3.6 - 4.3 ft) in height, they have a wingspan between 1.2 and 1.5 m (3.9 - 4.9 ft) and they weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 kgs (5.5 - 7.7 lbs).

They are pink in colour but immature birds are grey before they get their full adult plumage. They have long, grey legs with pink knees.

Their large bill is downward curving and more than half of it is black in colour. They have narrow wings with their primary and secondary flight feathers being black and their wing coverts being red.

Habitat

Chilean flamingos live in warm, tropical environments in South America. They are found from sea level to altitudes of 4,500 m (14,760 ft) and they inhabit muddy, shallow lakes that can be either alkaline or brackish. As the soil in the area where they live is mainly alkaline it is barren of vegetation and desert like.

They live in colonies that can range vastly in size from a few dozen birds to thousands of individuals.

Diet

Chilean Flamingos feed upon aquatic invertebrates, diatoms and algae. They mainly feed during the day and they sweep their bill upside down through shallow water picking up food as they go. They are filter feeders and their tongue pumps up and down, 5 - 6 times per second, pushing the water out of their beak.

Breeding

Chilean Flamingos breed in colonies that can contain thousands of individuals and after courtship rituals of synchronized dancing, preening, neck stretching and honking they mate during April and May.

They produce one chalky white egg that is laid on a mud mound in shallow water. The nest of each pair is situated approximately 1.5 m (4.9 ft) from neighbouring nests so the chick remains safe from other breeding pairs. Both parents incubate the egg which takes 27 - 31 days to hatch. They will defend their nest during the breeding season, otherwise they are non-territorial.

After the chick first hatches they are fed a substance called "crop milk" which comes from the parents' upper digestive tract. Either parent can feed the chick this way and other flamingos can act as foster feeders. When the chicks are old enough to walk they gather together in creches that are watched over by a few adult birds. By the time young flamingos reach 3 - 5 years of age they will have reached sexual maturity and gained their full adult plumage.

Predators

The Chilean Flamingo has few natural predators due to the environment that they live in however humans sometimes prey upon them.

Subspecies

There are no subspecies of the Chilean Flamingo.

Interesting Facts

Chilean Flamingos are closely related to the Caribbean Flamingo and the Greater Flamingo.

Flamingo comes from the latin word for flame.


The flamingo's characteristic pink colouring is caused by the beta carotene in their diet.

Similar Birds


 Caribbean Flamingo
 Andean Flamingo
 Greater Flamingo
 Lesser Flamingo
 Puna Flamingo
 


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