Chilean flamingos are tall birds with small heads, long neck, and long thin legs with webbed toes. Their bills are white with black tips and specialized for filter feeding. The bill is bent in the middle, like a banana, with a small upper portion and large, trough-like lower portion. These flamingos have the distinct pink plumage, but most feathers are white with a pink tinge. Their primary and secondary wing feathers are black with red edges. Chilean flamingos have green-gray to light blue legs with swollen pink joints. Juveniles are gray and turn pink with time. Males tend to be larger than females.
Chilean flamingos are found from central Peru through the Andes and Uruguay to Tierra del Fuego. They live in warm, tropical areas along the coast and up into the Andes Mountains. They inhabit muddy, shallow alkaline and brackish lakes, mudflats, estuaries and lagoons.
Height: 2.5-4.75 feet, Wingspan: 4-5 feet. Weight: 5.5-7.75lbs.
- Chilean flamingos don’t gain their pink plumage until they are two to three years old.
- Crop milk is produced by a gland in the crop when special hormones become present in the adults after a chick hatches. The “milk” is mostly protein and fat with very little carbohydrates.
- Flamingos will not breed if not the right shade of pink.
- Chilean flamingos can eat up to 10% of their body weight per day.
- One source states that the oldest known fossil of a primitive flamingo dates back to about 10 million years ago.
- Chilean flamingos have been hard to classify. They are similar to storks, herons, waterfowl and waders.
- You are what you eat! Flamingos owe their pink coloration to the carotenoids in the food that they eat.
IUCN lists as near threatened. These flamingos face several threats such as illegal egg-collecting, habitat destruction due to mining and tourism, and hunting. They have been hunted for food, their plumage and for sport.
Populations will be monitored during breeding season, and measures will be taken to curb the harvesting of Chilean flamingo eggs.
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