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NATURAL HISTORY

ANDEAN FLAMINGO } Phoenicoparrus andinus
FAMILY: Phoenicopteridae

DESCRIPTION: The Andean flamingo is both the most rare and tallest of all six species of flamingo. It has a traditional pink coloration throughout its body, with a pale yellow face and black tail feathers.

HABITAT: These flamingos prefer shallow wetlands at various elevations of the Andes Mountains. Most of these wetlands are endoreic, or “closed” bodies of water that do not drain into the sea, so they are prone to drying up, and are reliant on the summer rains to recharge them.

RANGE:This species is endemic to the high Andes of South America.

MIGRATION: During the summer, Andean flamingos prefer elevations between 11,483 and 14,764 feet in the puna and altiplano regions of the Andes. They move to lower elevations during the winter, as low as 210 feet above sea level.

BREEDING: These birds reach sexual maturity at three to five years, though not all sexually mature adults breed every year. Breeding season is in the summer, which in the Andes is December through February. The Andean flamingo lays a single egg, which it incubates for 28 days. When climatic conditions are not favorable, breeding is very limited or altogether abandoned. Therefore, this flamingo is thought to have poor breeding success.

LIFE CYCLE: Flamingos are generally long lived, surviving for an average of 20 to 30 years, though some have lived up to 50 years.

FEEDING: Flamingos are wading filter-feeders, principally feeding on algae.

THREATS: The Andean flamingo is threatened by habitat loss due to resource extraction; water contamination; tourism; and water diversion from mining, agriculture, and urban development.

POPULATION TREND: Recent censuses estimate the Andean flamingo population at about 34,000 individuals and declining.

Andean flamingo photo © Hanne and Jens Eriksen/ www.BirdsOman.com