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Chilean flamingo

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Chilean flamingo
Chilean flamingo with egg at the Tiergarten in Bernburg, Germany
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[2]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Phoenicopteriformes
Family: Phoenicopteridae
Genus: Phoenicopterus
P. chilensis
Binomial name
Phoenicopterus chilensis
Molina, 1782
  • Phoenicoparrus chilensis (Molina 1782)
  • Phoenicopterus ruber chilensis (Molina 1782)
  • Phoenicopterus ignipalliatus Orbigny & Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire

The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) is a species of large flamingo at a height of 110–130 cm (43–51 in) closely related to the American flamingo and the greater flamingo, with which it was sometimes considered conspecific.[4] The species is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

It breeds in South America from Ecuador and Peru to Chile and Argentina and east to Brazil; it has been introduced into Germany. Like all flamingos, it lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound.

These flamingos are mainly restricted to salt lagoons and soda lakes but these areas are vulnerable to habitat loss and water pollution.


Flock flying in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
A Chilean flamingo preening itself
One preening itself
Head of a Chilean flamingo at Durrell Wildlife Park (Jersey)

The plumage is pinker than the slightly larger greater flamingo, but less so than the Caribbean flamingo. It can be differentiated from these species by its grayish legs with pink joints (tibiotarsal articulation), and also by the larger amount of black on the bill (more than half). Young chicks may have no sign of pink coloring whatsoever, but instead remain gray or peach.[5]


The Chilean flamingo's bill is equipped with comb-like structures that enable it to filter food—mainly algae and plankton—from the water of the coastal mudflats, estuaries, lagoons, and salt lakes where it lives.[6]


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. Flamingos in general have a poor record of successful breeding because they will delay reproduction until the environmental conditions are favorable for breeding.[7]

Males and females co-operate in building a pillar-shaped mud nest, and both incubate the egg laid by the female, taking turns to sit on the egg.[7] Upon hatching, the chicks have gray plumage; they do not gain the typical pink adult coloration for 2–3 years. Both male and female flamingos can produce a nutritious fluid from glands in their crop to feed their young. Due to their diet, this crop milk is crimson in color.[6]

In captivity[edit]

The first flamingo hatched in a European zoo was a Chilean flamingo at Zoo Basel (Switzerland) in 1958.[8]

In 1988, a Chilean flamingo that lived in the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah, had mistakenly not received his routine wing clipping. The flamingo escaped,[9] and became a local legend in the greater Salt Lake area known as Pink Floyd the Flamingo. Pink Floyd came to Utah in the winters to eat the brine shrimp that live in the Great Salt Lake, and flew north to Idaho and Montana in the spring and summer. Pink Floyd became a popular tourist attraction and local icon until his disappearance and presumed death[10] after he flew north to Idaho one spring in 2005 and was never seen again.

Since there is such a decline in the numbers of this species, breeding programs have been implemented in zoos to offset the decline of the wild stock numbers.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2018). "Phoenicopterus chilensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22697365A132068236. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22697365A132068236.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Appendices | CITES". cites.org. Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  3. ^ Çınar, Ümüt (November 2015). "04 → Cᴏʟᴜᴍʙᴇᴀ : Pʜᴏᴇɴɪᴄᴏᴘᴛᴇʀɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Pᴏᴅɪᴄɪᴘᴇᴅɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Mᴇsɪᴛᴏʀɴɪᴛʜɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Pᴛᴇʀᴏᴄʟɪᴅɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs, Cᴏʟᴜᴍʙɪfᴏʀᴍᴇs". English Names of Birds. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  4. ^ Knox, A.G.; Collinson, M.; Helbig, A.G.; Parkin, D.P.; Sangster, G. (2002). "Taxonomic recommendations for British birds". Ibis. 144: 707–710. doi:10.1046/j.1474-919x.2002.00110.x.
  5. ^ "Photo". Zoo View. XXXVII (4). Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens: 1, back cover. 2004.
  6. ^ a b ""Chilean Flamingo Fact Sheet, Lincoln Park Zoo"". Archived from the original on 2015-12-20. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
  7. ^ a b c Farrell, Barry. "Breeding behavior in a flock of Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) at Dublin zoo". Zoo Biology.
  8. ^ "Zoo celebrates 50 years of flamingo breeding and science". Basler Zeitung. 13 August 2008. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Utah's Wild Chilean Flamingo, Pink Floyd!"
  10. ^ "Feeling Blue About Pink Floyd". Deseret News. 26 March 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2016.

External links[edit]