Chilean flamingo

Latin Name
Phoenicopterus chilensis

Class
Birds

Order
Ciconiiformes

Description

With tall, thin legs and a long, flexible neck, the Chilean flamingo can reach up to 40 inches in height. Like all flamingos, it has striking pink plumage, including crimson highlights along the edges of the wings. What appears to be the bird's knee is actually its ankle—the joint bends backward rather than forward.


 

Range

Peru and Brazil south to Argentina


Status

Not threatened. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Chilean Flamingo Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


Habitat

Coastal mudflats, estuaries, lagoons and salt lakes. Chilean flamingos can occupy habitats ranging from sea level up to 14,000 feet in the Andes. Their ability to tolerate extreme conditions makes them well suited for Chicago's harsh winters.


Niche

The Chilean flamingo's bill is equipped with comb-like structures that enable it to filter food—mainly algae and plankton—from the water.


Life History

Chilean flamingos live in large flocks in the wild and require crowded conditions to stimulate breeding. During breeding season, males and females display a variety of behaviors to attract mates, including head flagging—swiveling their heads from side-to-side in tandem—and wing salutes, where the wings are repeatedly opened and closed. Males and females cooperate in building a pillar-shaped mud nest, and both incubate the egg laid by the female. Upon birth, the chicks have gray plumage; they don't gain adult coloration for two-three years. Both male and female flamingos can produce a nutritious milk-like substance in their crop gland to feed their young.


Special Adaptations

The Chilean flamingo often stands on one leg, tucking the other beneath its body to preserve body heat.



Bonus Content

Living In Numbers
Many animals at Lincoln Park Zoo have special adaptations that allow them to thrive in large groups. We discuss some of them in detail here.

Chilean flamingo medical exams at Lincoln Park Zoo

Photo Slideshow: In the Pink of Health
The zoo’s lead vet makes a house call to the Chilean flamingo flock’s dome for the birds’ annual medical checkups.

Members of the flamingo flock display an alert posture amidst winter snow.

A Flash of Pink
Wing salutes, alerts and even squabbles over turf—Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Sunny Nelson decodes some of the flamingo social behaviors on display at the Waterfowl Lagoon.

 


ARKive Media

ARKive video - Chilean flamingo - overviewARKive image - Chilean flamingo tending egg on nestARKive video - Chilean flamingo feeding chick on nest

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Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit