The Chilean flamingo breeds in a large colony and needs that crowded situation to stimulate breeding activity. The male and female construct a chimney-shaped mud nest, 5-18 inches in height. One chalky white egg is laid on top of the nest. Both parents incubate the egg for about one month. The chick has whitish-grey feathers when hatched and is precocial, except it cannot feed itself. The parents regurgitate food for the youngster. Parents recognize their chick by its chirp. The little one leaves the nest within a week and can fly at about two months.
At Caldwell Zoo, flamingo eggs are removed from the nest when laid and moved into an incubator for safety of the egg. The parents are given a fake egg which they very carefully tend. Zookeepers keep track of each egg and the pair it belongs to so that when the egg is ready to hatch, it can be given back to its real parents to rear.
Habitat: Temperate South America
Diet in the wild: Small mollusks, insects, shrimp-like animals, crustaceans, blue-green algae, diatoms
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Game bird diet, turkey crumble, flamingo fare, krill
Size: 37-41 inches; 6½-8 pounds
Family: Large breeding colonies close to water
Status: Near threatened; number decreasing
Did you know? The Chilean flamingo is cold resistant and can withstand temperatures below freezing.