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Chilean flamingo

Phoenicopterus chilensis


Flamingos are an ancient group of birds. Their fossil records date back to more than 10 million years ago.

Like all flamingos, the Chilean flamingo has striking pink plumage with crimson feathers along the edge of the wings. However, flamingos are not born with stunning colour. Their colour comes from carotenoid pigments which they consume as part of their diet.

Flamingos feed with their beak upside down. They tip their head into the water and filter feed, using special hair like adaptations. Which allow them to catch the small microorganisms that make up their diet.

The Chilean flamingo originates from central Peru, Bolivia, Argentine and Chile. The word flamingo originates from the Portuguese language and means ‘red goose’.

Belfast Zoo’s flock of Chilean flamingos live at the zoo lake!

Animal class

Bird

Conservation status

The IUCN considers the Chilean flamingo is likely to be threatened with extinction in the near future. It is listed in Appendix II by CITES.

Habitat

Wetlands/marsh

Population

In the last 40 years the population of the Chilean flamingo has dropped from 500,000 to 200,000, in the wild.

Diet

Omnivore. The Chilean flamingo eats algae as well as aquatic invertebrates, such as molluscs and crustaceans.