Chilean Flamingo Banding Project
|Find out more about Chilean flamingos at Zoo Atlanta|
Since 2007, Zoo Atlanta has supported a flamingo banding project in Bolivia. Bolivia is home to three species of wild flamingos: the Andean flamingo, the Puna flamingo and the Chilean flamingo, which is the species we have here at the Zoo. Most people think of flamingos as being very tropical, but these species are actually very cold tolerant, nesting in colonies in March and April on vast alkaline lakes high in the Andes Mountains. In winter, they scatter, and it is not well known where they go.
The project we support involves the banding of around 500 flamingo chicks on the Laguna Colorada each year. The flightless chicks are rounded up on one day and are caught, weighed, and measured. They then have plastic identification bands put on their legs before they are released back onto the lake. Leg bands allow the birds to be identified from a distance, wherever they might go. Since the project began in 2000, approximately 5,000 birds have been banded.
The money to support this project comes mostly from our very own flamingo flock! Each year, our flock lays more eggs than we can rear. The Bird Department send these eggs to other zoos to hatch and raise. For each flamingo raised to 60 days of age, the recipient zoo donates $200 to Zoo Atlanta’s Conservation Endowment Fund, which then supports the banding project.
All three of these flamingo species are decreasing in numbers, and it is hoped that with enough information, protection can be provided in crucial areas and support these species year-round. The banding project continues to provide new information by gradually making the movements of the birds in their ranges more clear.