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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Phoenicopterus chilensis
HABITAT: Coastal mudflats, estuaries, lagoons, and salt lakes of eastern South America
CONSERVATION STATUS: Near Threatened
FUN FACT: Often this species of flamingo inhabits very salty lakes where other species cannot survive. Their legs have developed a tough scale-like covering to protect from the corrosiveness of the water they stand in constantly.
DIET: Generalist. Takes aquatic invertebrates including crustaceans, algae, diatoms, and mollusks. The food of the Chilean flamingo is more mobile than that of other species, so they walk faster while they eat than other species. They also have a curious relationship with the Wilson’s Phalarope, (a N American bird species that migrates to Chile in the winter) which swims around and between the flamingo’s legs as it walks to take advantage of the stirred-up food.
DESCRIPTION: Pale pink plumage overall, with vivid salmon and black wing primaries. Bill stout and bent in middle, light colored next to head, black from bend to tip. Neck and legs are long and slender. Yellowish gray legs have contrasting red “knees” and feet. (What appear to be knees bend backwards and are the ankle of the foot.) Toes webbed. Stand about 3 to 3.5 feet tall. Males larger than females. Fly with neck and legs outstretched. Immature birds gray with brown or pink markings. Get adult plumage at 3-4 years. Chick’s beak straight at hatching.
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