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Census for the Galapagos Flamingo!

Originally published on Jun 25th, 2009

Park rangers recently did their census of flamingos in Galapagos, which they do every year. The flamingos that live in Galapagos are related to the ones that live in the Caribbean. Galapagos Flamingos are known for their bright pink color, which they get from the small shrimp and crustaceans that they eat. Because Flamingos are rare in Galapagos and they are so beautiful, they are a favorite among those visitors lucky enough to get to see them.

Counting Beaks

The rangers count the flamingos every year at eleven brackish lagoons on the islands of Isabela, Floreana, Santa Cruz, Santiago, and Brenbich Islet. Every five years, they do a much more complete census, which includes a total of 28 lagoons spread out over Galapagos. Rangers counted individual flamingos, including adults and young, and also looked at the nests. This year, they found 396 Flamingos in Galapagos, including adults and young. There are 22 new nests and seven old nests spread out over the eleven lagoons. The numbers are fairly typical, indicating no major increase or decrease in flamingo populations recently.

The Galapagos Flamingo

Even so, the Galapagos flamingos are an isolated population and do not migrate, and their low numbers make them vulnerable. Although they are biologically indistinguishable from other Flamingos elsewhere, they could be loosely considered an endemic subspecies on the grounds that they do not have any contact with any other flamingos. It is because this population is vulnerable that scientists are paying such close attention to their numbers and status.

The reproductive habits of the flamingo make them vulnerable as well. Unlike other birds which lay several eggs, a female flamingo only lays one at a time, which is then tended in shifts by both of the parents. If anything happens to the egg or either parent, the cycle is broken.

Where to see them

In Galapagos, flamingos can be seen at Punta Cormorant (Floreana), Cerro Dragon (Santa Cruz) and outside of the town of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.

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