XI. Longevity and Causes of Death.
Experts have not yet determined how long flamingos live. At the Philadelphia Zoo, one flamingo lived 44 years.
1. Most flamingo predators are other species of birds.
a. The lesser flamingo's eggs and chicks are preyed upon by several birds.
(1) The lappet-faced and white-headed vultures feed on eggs, young flamingos, and dead flamingos.
(2) The Egyptian vulture feeds mostly on flamingo eggs. This bird has also been observed dropping and destroying eggs that it does not eat.
(3) The Marabou stork and tawny eagle prey on flamingo eggs and chicks.
(4) The black kite, a scavenger, feeds on flamingo carcasses left behind by other birds and land animals.
b. The greater flamingo's eggs and chicks are prey for the Marabou stork.
2. Remote breeding grounds make it difficult for terrestrial predators to feed regularly on flamingos. Land predators will, however, enter the flamingo breeding grounds when water levels are low. These predators vary according to the species of flamingo and environment in which the flamingo lives.
a. The lesser flamingo is preyed upon by lions, leopards, cheetahs, and jackals. Pythons have also been known to attack flamingos.
b. The Andean flamingo is preyed upon by the Andean fox and Geoffrey's cat.
c. In Africa, hyenas will enter a flamingo's environment when the ground is dry and can hold the animals' weight. Hyenas cause more panic among the birds than actual mortalities.
d. Records indicate that bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, minks, and dogs have killed flamingos in zoological environments.
e. On Great Inagua Island, in the Bahamas, feral pigs prey on flamingos.
3. About 5% of the colony of flamingos living at Lake Magadi in Africa die of predation. The remaining deaths occur because of dropped or abandoned eggs, and poor health of young and adults.
C. Human interaction.
1. Habitat destruction by humans has had a negative effect on the breeding and feeding grounds of flamingos.
a. Construction of roads and highways make the flamingo's environment more accessible to people and land predators.
b. Coastal desert irrigation has altered water levels in many flamingo habitats.
c. Mining of boron, lithium, nitrates, potassium, and molybdenum has caused habitat disturbances for the flamingos.
d. Low-flying aircraft bringing tourists, bird enthusiasts, and photographers into flamingo nesting and feeding grounds cause disturbances and affect the birds' lifestyle.
2. People have used flamingos and their eggs as food.
a. Historically, people have used flamingo eggs as a primary food source and delicacy. Today, in some places, flamingo eggs are removed from nests and sold at markets.
b. In early Roman times, flamingo tongues were carefully prepared, pickled, and served as a delicacy.
c. Andean miners have killed flamingos for their fat, believed to be a cure for tuberculosis.
3. Greater and lesser flamingo chicks in the Magadi colony in Africa were banded in the 1960's with the hope of finding out more about these birds' lifestyles and migration patterns. Unfortunately, only a few of the banded birds have been recovered. It is believed that the bands may have dissolved because of the high alkaline content in the water where these birds live.
4. Human activity on Great Inagua, Bahamas, has helped flamingo populations. Salt production has added many acres of suitable habitat, stabilized water levels, and provided additional food sources.
Scientific Classification|Habitat and Distribution|Physical Characteristics|Senses|Adaptations for Their Enviornment|Behavior|Diet and Eating Habits|Reproduction|Hatching and Care of Young|Communication|Longevity and Causes of Death|Conservation|Bibliography|Books for Young Readers
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