Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus chilensis
Those visible joints about halfway up the animal’s legs are not knees—they are the bird’s ankles.
These birds’ most noticeable features are probably their long, skinny legs—which are longer in relation to body size than any other bird. They often stand on just one leg, even while sleeping, with the other tucked up close to their body. Besides being comfortable for the animal, this posture helps reduce heat loss through the legs and feet.
STATUS: Chilean flamingos are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
HABITAT: Chilean flamingos are found along both coasts of South America, in Central Peru, and Argentina
DIET: These birds eat small shrimp, worms, insect larvae, and aquatic plants. They derive their pink coloration from the natural carotenoid pigment found in the foods they eat. In captivity they are fed a manufactured diet that contains a natural pigment to maintain their color.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The Chilean flamingo has pinkish white plumage with black feathers underneath its wings, and long pale green legs. The bill is has a black tip. The flamingo’s long neck and bill, fashioned at a 45-degree angle, are adaptations for the filter feeding system employed by the bird. When the bird puts its head down to feed, the bill is parallel to the bottom and submerged in water. By a tongue pumping action, tiny plants and animals are sifted from the bottom mud and forced through comb-like plates on the edge of the bill.
Flamingos are highly social animals and breed only in colonies that may range in size from a few dozen to thousands of birds. The courtship rituals involve complex synchronized dancing, head flagging, neck stretching, and honking, which can be quite amusing to witness. Nests are built about five feet apart and the entire colony will lay eggs at about the same time. Chicks are born gray after a 27- to 31-day incubation. The characteristic pink color occurs at about two years and they are sexually mature at three.