How do Chilean flamingos reproduce?

For Phoenicopterus chilensis, reproduction is not a large part of their life cycles. On average, the Chilean flamingo only reproduces once every 3.64 years. In a 41 year study that was performed, only 11 successful attempts at reproduction were made (Bucher et al. 2012). In order to be considered an attempt at reproducing, the male flamingo must mount and balance on the female for at least three seconds. This is the males attempt at making cloacal contact with the female (King 1994). The reason why these flamingos have a low average of reproducing is because the males have a hard time keeping balanced on the females, and they end up falling off of the back of the female (King 1994).

In their semi-arid, subtropical ecosystem, the presence of mudflats, which is a muddy area next to the shoreline when the tide is low, is a necessity (Studer-Thiersch 2000). Other conditions that affect breeding periods are the availability of food. Chilean flamingos delay their reproduction until the conditions are just right (Studer-Thiersch 2000). They breed in large colonies on the shorelines of salt lagoons and soda lakes (Bildstein et al. 1993). While other birds mate with one singular individual for their life, this breed of flamingos have the choice each time they reproduce to pick a different mate.

During the reproduction period, the Chilean flamingo has different group options for reproduction partners. The flamingos either group up in the traditional one male and one female partnership, or stay in larger groups of either 3 birds or more (Bildstein et al. 1993). To claim the flamingo they choose to reproduce with, they perform aggressive acts to preserve their relationship and to show others that they are paired (Bildstein et al. 1993). This ties in with the aggressive interactions this type of flamingo have with one another.

When the mother gives birth to a flamingo, it is not a live birth. The chick incubates in an egg for 27-31 days before it hatches. Both the mother and the father take turns incubating the egg. There is no distinct difference in the amount of time each parent incubates for (Barry et al. 2000). Reptiles are other animals whol lay eggs when they give birth. One example is the Northern California Aligator Lizard. When born, the chick has grey feathers (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). It also has a straight beak, which will curve down throughout maturity (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). While at this young age, chicks gather in “chéches”, which is a very large group of young flamingos that are watched by a few adults from the pack (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). It is almost like daycare for flamingos. For information regarding the family lifestyle Chilean flamingos have, check out the Woodland Park Zoo!

At about 10-12 weeks of age, their formed straight beak allows them to fully digest their food now (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). These birds grow up very quickly. At 6-10 months, their feathers start to change into the distinctive color of a flamingo, light pink (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). Just shortly after being alive for one year, they are starting to have light pink feathers mixed in with brown and grey patches (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). They are fully pink by two to three years of age (Woodland Park Zoo 2014). By age three to five, they are sexually mature adults and ready to attempt reproduction with a mate they choose from their pack of flamingos (Woodland Park Zoo 2014).

The next page is all about interactions that Phoenicopterus chilensis has with other flamingos and humans as well.

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