James's Flamingo Fact File

Phoenicoparrus jamesi

Credit: Pavel Špindler, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 20-30 years

Captive 20-30 years




Conservation Status


Near Threatened

James's flamingo, also known as the puna flamingo is one of the three flamingo species found in South America. They have the smallest range of the three.

They make their home in saline lakes where they will filter algae known as diatoms from the water on which they can feed.

Throughout the year they carry out a migration from the high saline lakes which may freeze down to lower lakes. Some individuals remain at the few higher lakes which have hot springs year round.

While the population of this species is currently stable it was previously believed to be extinct until the 1950s when a small population was discovered.

Read on to learn more about these brilliant birds.


What does the James's Flamingo look like?

James's flamingo is colored pink along the head and body with the neck and parts of the body having white feathers. Red streaks are present along the back with the flight feathers being black.

Around the eye there is a patch of bare skin which is colored red. The eye itself is colored yellow.

One of the most striking feature of James's flamingo is the bill which is short and hooked. It is colored bright yellow at its base and black in the front half.

The legs of these flamingos are long and slender with webbed feet at their base. They are colored pink. There is no hind toe on either foot.

They stand 92cm (36in) tall with an average weight of 2kg (4.5lbs). Males and females are similar in appearance though the male may be slightly larger.


What does the James's Flamingo eat?

They will feed on microscopic algae known as diatoms which are in abundance in salt water lakes.

Their bill acts a filter to help them remove their food from the water. They will walk through their water with the head dipped slightly under the water.

James's Flamingo

Credit: Pedro Szekely from Los Angeles, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the James's Flamingo?

South America is the native home of the James's flamingo. Here they are restricted to a small area covering parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. Much of their range is on high plateaus in the Andes mountain range.

They have the smallest range of any flamingo species. Parts of their range overlap with the other two South American flamingo species, the Chilean and greater flamingo.


What kind of environment does the James's Flamingo live in?

James's flamingo is primarily found in saline lakes which are located high on Andean plateaus. During winter they move to lower lakes.

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How does the James's Flamingo produce its young?

Breeding takes place from December to February. They will carry out a range of courtship behaviors. During this time their appetite will decrease.

James's flamingoes are considered monogamous and remain with their mate for life. They will only change mates if their partner dies.

Mating takes place with a colony of many pairs of these flamingoes.

Their single egg is deposited in to a nest formed of mud shaped by the beak and feet of the parents. The egg is colored chalky white. Both parents are involved in incubating the egg which takes 26-31 days.

The chicks are gray at birth and keep this coloration for the first year of life.

Sexual maturity is reached by six years of age.


What does the James's Flamingo do with its day?

These animals are active during the day.

James's flamingo is highly vocal producing a wide range of calls. Their call includes a low gabble sound and a nasal honking when in flight.

During winter most populations of the James's flamingo will undertake a migration to lower lakes to avoid cold temperatures. Some remain in the mountains at locations where there are hot springs.

When taking off James's flamingo must get a running start and then must flap their wings near constantly while in flight. When in flight they make a V formation.

James's flamingos will regularly clean their feathers to deal with the accumulation of salt on them.

James's Flamingo

Credit: Christian Mehlführer, User:Chmehl, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the James's Flamingo?

Until the 1950s it was believed the James's flamingo had gone extinct but a small population was found.

Populations are currently thought to be stable with the most recent estimate in 2010 placing it at 106,000 individuals.

They continue to face threats including egg-collection and hunting, mining activity especially its water demands and tourism. In the future climate change may cause declines in the levels of diatoms their food source.

Quick facts

These animals may also be known as the puna flamingo.

Their name, puna flamingo comes from a local word for a high Andean plateau.

James's flamingo is named after the English ornithologist Harry James-Berkeley. He first recorded the species for modern science in Chile.

James's Flamingo

Credit: Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

BirdLife International. 2016. Phoenicoparrus jamesiThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697398A93612106. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697398A93612106.en. Downloaded on 21 September 2021.

Reidparkzoo.org. 2021. Puna (James's ) Flamingo. [online] Available at: <http://reidparkzoo.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Puna-Jamess-Flamingo-4.pdf> [Accessed 21 September 2021].

Slim-bridge.co.uk. 2021. IDENTIFY JAMES'S FLAMINGO - WWT SLIMBRIDGE. [online] Available at: <http://www.slim-bridge.co.uk/james%20flamingo.html> [Accessed 21 September 2021].

Peru Aves. 2021. James' or Puna Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) - Peru Aves. [online] Available at: <https://www.peruaves.org/phoenicopteridae/james-puna-flamingo-phoenicoparrus-jamesi/> [Accessed 21 September 2021].

Bouglouan, N., 2021. James’s Flamingo or Puna Flamingo. [online] Oiseaux-birds.com. Available at: <http://www.oiseaux-birds.com/card-james-flamingo.html> [Accessed 21 September 2021].

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