Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Flamingos at Laguna Chaxa in the Salar de Atacama

Flamingos are wading birds and I had the opportunity to see different kinds in the Andes. The word flamingo comes from the Spanish flamengo, flame-colored, but you might think of flamenco as a mnemonic.

At Laguna Chaxa in the Salar de Atacama one can watch different species, like the Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), James's flamingo
(Phoenicoparrus jamesi) [?] and Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus), but I’m not an ornithologist and won’t try to differentiate. Flamingo feed on small brine shrimp and or algae much like baleen whales filter krill. It’s strange that baleen whales aren’t pink like flamingos as the color of the plumage is pink because of beta-carotenes and krill is rich in astaxanthin, a beta-carotene that colors at least salmon.

Laguna Chaxa in the Salar de Atacama is at 2300 m altitude and I’ll show only pictures I’ve taken there in this blogpost.

Lots of salt

Different colors due to different age and content of betacarotenes in the food

The flamingo pose

In flight


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