James's Flamingo

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Common Name: Puna or James’s Flamingo
Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus jamesi

Size: 35 ½ inches (90-92 cm)

Habitat: South America; Found in small range in the Andes, from the southern tip of Peru through western Bolivia and northwestern Argentina to northern Chile It is found mainly on saline lakes in the high Andean plateaus, where it feeds mainly on diatoms, but it is also a partial elevational migrant which moves to lower altitude lakes in the non-breeding season.

Status: Near threatened. Global population: 100,000 and decreasing. Up until 1986, egg collection and hunting were intensive. Loss and degradation of the habitat of the flamingo have also contributed to its decline, including the pollution and diversion of streams feeding the salt lakes. Also, levels of diatoms may be affected by climate change to the detriment of flamingo food resources. Mining activity and the associated demand for water, as well as tourism are further threats to some wetlands.

Following the massive declines of the 20th century due to egg collection and hunting, two guards on motorcycles were employed in 1987 to protect the flamingos at the Laguna Colorada colony in Bolivia. Additionally, in 1984 a program began to protect the birds of northern Chile from mining activities. Now, young are ringed in their first year, and breeding colonies are monitored and guarded

Diet: Algae and diatoms (phytoplankton)

Nesting: It breeds on islands or islets of soft clay or sand, as well as along the shorelines of salt lakes. Until 1957, the breeding grounds of the James’s flamingo had not been located. It is now known that puna flamingos gather at nest sites in colonies of thousands of pairs, sometimes mixing with the Chilean and Andean flamingo. These large gatherings of birds display collectively for a long time surrounding the breeding period, although pair bonds appear to form during these displays. Pairs build a truncated cone of mud topped with a shallow bowl in which the female lays a single egg. Breeding will only take place if the water level of the lake is neither too high nor too low. Incubation of the egg is shared between the male and female. Once the chick begins to hatch, the adults may help it to escape from its shell. The bill of the chick is straight at first, but soon gains its characteristic down-curve. The chick spends up to 12 days in the nest after hatching. It becomes darker grey in color after leaving the nest but will not achieve full adult plumage until three to four years of age.

Cool Facts: James’s flamingo migration is poorly understood, but flocks are known to leave higher altitude breeding grounds at the end of summer, possibly to move to lower altitudes. However, some birds remain at the breeding site as the hot springs in the area prevent the lakes from freezing in the cold weather.

While the James’s Flamingo may look similar and nest with other South American Flamingos, it is distinctive; Chilean Flamingo is pinker, with a paler and longer bill while the Andean Flamingo is larger showing more black in wings and bill and has yellow legs.

Found in Songbird Remix Flamingos

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