Andean Flamingo

All six extant flamingo species used to belong to one genus, Phoenicopterus. But in 2014, new research saw 2 new genus created Phoeniconaias and Phoenicoparrus. The Andean Flamingo was incorporated in to the latter and renamed Phoenicoparrus andinus.

 

HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

This species is an inhabitant of the salt and alkaline lakes in the Andes mountain range, from Peru to Argentina and Chile, where it socialises with James' Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) and the Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis).

 

Andean Flamingo wading

DESCRIPTION

The adult Andean Flamingo is an overall pale pink colour, being most vivid along the neck, breast and wing coverts, and exhibits large black primary flight feathers. The pink colouration comes from their diet, the algae they eat is full of a chemical known as beta carotene.

The large hooked bill is a pale yellow colour, becoming black about halfway towards the tip. The Andean Flamingo is the only flamingo species with yellow legs and feet. Juveniles are a duller grey colour. Adults reach a length of 1.0 - 1.1m with a wingspan of 1.0 - 1.6m.

 

Andean Flamingo preening and smoothing

DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION

Using special filters in the bills, Andean flamingos sieve diatoms (tiny algae) from the water. Research shows that Andean Flamingos can adopt the same feeding techniques as other species it feeds with.  Its lifespan can reach 50 years.

 

Andean Flamingo

OTHER NOTABLE INFORMATION

The individuals in these photographs were observed in captivity at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, UK.

 

STATUS

Due to egg collecting and habitat disturbance, the Andean Flamingo is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable.