What are Chilean Flamingos like?

Chile Travel Posted on 03/29/2021

Chilean flamingos are one of the strangest species of birds that you can find in South America. In fact, these birds belong to the family of the so call Phoenicopteridae and inside this group, they are the only ones that wave. 

Pink flamingos in Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia

There are only 2 species of flamingos in Europe and 4 species in South America, and one is the Chilean flamingo. It’s characterized by the beautiful pink color of their feathers, which is the main and most impressive feature of these types of birds. But, what really differentiates Chilean flamingos from other subaquatic relatives? Let’s read!

Where can I see flamingos in Chile?

To live a comfortable life a flamingo needs temperate weather, alkaline lakes and muddy brackish. In Chile, these conditions can be found in the Atacama Desert -true story…- heading north, inside the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos. 

The Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos spreads all over the San Pedro de Atacama Region and was founded in 1990 to protect a wide diversity of wildlife and flora in the middle of the desert. Some places where you can find Chilean flamingos inside the reserve:

  • Highplain Lagoons: These are the Laguna Miscanti and Miñique, a popular destination in Atacama, famous for its backdrop snow-capped volcanoes. The nearest village is Socaire.
  • Inside the main Salar de Atacama (Atacama saltflats), in the Soncor and Quelana areas.

Chilean flamingos can be found outside Chile too in other countries of South America and some places in Europe too.

In South American you can see Chilean flamingos if you visit:

  • Argentina: They live all over the country.
  • Brazil: Only at the east
  • Peru: At the coastline
  • Bolivia: Only at the southwest
  • Ecuador: Only at the south
  • Paraguay: Only in a little northwest region
  • Uruguay: Only in the south

In Europe, you can see introduced colonies of Chilean flamingos in:

  • Germany
  • Netherlands

In North America:

  • California
  • Utah

Flamingos lyfetile: Social & Monogamus

The Chilean flamingo is a charming and social bird, they nest and feed together, and they live in a flock of a few memebers to thousands of them! They are gregarious and diurnal animals that spend most of the day preening which is crucial for keeping feathers waterproof and in good shape to fly.

In spite of their long and thin legs which may do them, good runners, the Chilean flamingo flies, especially when migrating -always in a V-shape formation- and can submerge, that’s why they are called subaquatic birds. 

It’s very common to see the flamingos standing in one leg only but few people know why they put them into such an uncomfortable position. But Chilean flamingos stand in one leg to keep their body heat!

They eat aquatic invertebrates and algae, and are monogamus for a season, that’s from April to May. They build the nest and incubate their single white egg together for about a month. After 8 days, the chick moves to large creches where the little one can still be recognized by their parents when they call him with a special noise only the flamingo family knows. 

After 3 to 5 years the chick is considered to be a mature Chilean flamingo!

Pink flamingos of the Atacama Desert in Chile

Other interesting facts about the Chilean flamingo

  • They are classified as Near Threatened species since their eggs are stolen and their habitats endangered by human activities.
  • Last reports show Chilean flamingo population rises up to 300,000, though these numbers are decreasing.
  • In their habitats, they are at the top of the food chain controlling the populations of their prey.
  • Flamingos’ knee it’s in fact…. their ankle!
  • The word flamingo comes from the Spanish word “flamenco”, which is related to the word fire. “Flamenco” is also called to the people living in Flanders, Belgium.
  • They drink still water, from springs and also they can absorb rainwater with their feathers. 

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