How does this bird interact with other species?

As stated before in the reproduction page, the Chilean flamingo can be very aggressive towards other birds, and even humans. This bird may seem like a calm, peaceful animal, but when a group surrounds together, they can be quite rough. Phoenicopterus chilensis stay grouped in flocks of almost 20,000 birds (Bucher et al. 2012). It is claimed that larger bondage groups of flamingos have higher aggression rates compared to single birds (Dampier et al. 2010). It is very difficult for scientists to survey colonies in the wild because there are so many birds in one colony. Also, it is difficult to pick out the behavior of one particular bird. The majority of Chilean flamingos are held in captivity to be able to observe their behaviors (Dampier et al. 2010). Another organism that is commonly found in North American zoos is the Rhodesian Giraffe!

Human interactions with this type of flamingo have many negative effects on the bird. The Chilean flamingo is classified as near-threatened due to humans illegally collecting the eggs while they are unsupervised (Dampier et al. 2010). Also, humans add to the habitat loss of these birds because they mine, tour and hunt on these grounds (Field Guide). They are hunted for their feathers, their meat, and just for sport (Field Guide). Andean miners believe that the tongue of the Chilean flamingo is the cure for tuberculosis, so when they hunt these birds, they cut out their tongues (Field Guide). Also, humans keep these flamingos in zoos because they think flamingos are entertaining to watch (Field Guide).

While aggression rates increase during reproduction breeding periods (Barry et al. 2000), there is no significant difference on which sex has a higher aggression towards other flamingos (Baldassarre et al. 1992). But it is claimed that adults are more aggressive than juveniles.  An “aggressive” behavior is when one or both of the birds stretch their necks out and start pecking at the other individual (Beaumont et al. 1992). Acts of aggression can cause egg breakages or misplacements in such large groups (Barry et al. 2000). This is another reason why reproduction rates are so low, because the roughness of these birds causes egg fatalities.

Predator-prey relationships between organisms are very important. For the Chilean flamingo, they feed on mostly plankton and invertebrates that live in the benthic zone of lakes (Hurlbert 1982). They also feed on zooplankton (Hurlbert 1982). If the flamingos have eaten all of the plankton and have nothing else to eat, they feed on seeds that they find on the shore of lakes. Humans are the Chilean Flamingos main predator (Conservation Patagonica News).

The relationship between chicks and parents is less aggressive and highly beneficial when the flamingos are in a quieter, more secluded habitat (Lee Richardson Zoo 2014). This way there are no other flamingos to step on their nests, and there are no humans that can invade on their homes. After the egg has hatched, both the mother and the father have a nutrient-rich liquid that they feed the chick with. This crop milk is located in their upper digestive tracts (Lee Richardson Zoo 2014). When the actual parents of the chick raise it themselves, and keeps watch over them, it gives the chick the skills and the experience to be a better parent when they reproduce (Lee Richardson Zoo 2014). Also, parents find their chicks by voice recognition, so if the parents raise the chicks themselves, it will be easier to find their children in the large groups of flamingos (Lee Richardson Zoo 2014). For more information, check out the Lee Richardson Zoo webpage! It's full of more information regarding the interactions these flamingos have with other species.

The next page is dedicated to some fun facts regarding the Chilean flamingo! Check it out!

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