Where Are Flamingos on the Food Chain?

Photo by ArCaLu/Shutterstock.com

You look at a flamingo and see a friend. A brine shrimp looks at a flamingo and sees its life flash before its eyes. A crocodile looks at a flamingo and sees its next meal. Where you are on the food chain plays a big role in how your fellow creatures view you, and flamingos are no different.

I know, none of us want to think about a flamingo being eaten. But this is nature, and nature isn’t always pleasant. In fact, it’s often rather unpleasant. That’s the reality for life on earth, though.

As humans, we’re fortunate enough to have brains developed to the point where we are dominate without the size and brute force other members of the animal kingdom possess. Flamingos, though? Flamingos are just birds, and not birds of prey. They don’t have grocery stores or pad thai restaurants. They have to source their own food from lakes and lagoons, and they have to avoid becoming sourced food for other animals that also don’t have grocery stores or pad thai restaurants in their neighborhood. Makes you wonder where flamingos fall on this wild thing we call the food chain.

Where Do Flamingos Fall on the Food Chain?

Somewhere in the middle.

Flamingos are undoubtedly above crustaceans and other small sea organisms that make up the majority of flamingo diets. Algae? Plankton? Brine shrimp? Welcome to the basement. Flamingos munch on those cellar dwellers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But flamingos do not want to come across crocodiles, wild dogs, birds of prey, or other animals that vary by environment that wouldn’t mind chowing down on a pink bird. All of those animals are definitely above flamingos on the food chain, and they don’t play around. 

Adult flamingos are less likely to be attacked and eaten by predators than many other creatures in the animal kingdom, in part because of their habitats. It can be tough to hunt, kill, and eat something when it’s hanging out in boiling water or in alkaline lakes thousands of feet above sea level. Who needs that headache when there is easier prey out there to be had? Now, flamingo chicks and flamingo eggs? Those are ripe for the picking.

Flamingo egg - Photo by UnaiHuiziPhotography/Shutterstock.com

Not that it’s unusual for animals to be extremely protective of their young, but this is why flamingos guard their eggs and chicks with great vigilance. If a flamingo chick is separated from its parents of the greater flamboyance, it is an easy meal for a hungry eagle hovering above in search of its next feast. Eggs might be an even better target considering they can’t even attempt to move or evade an oncoming attack. If a flamingo is to become prey, it will likely be before it has hatched or not long after it’s started its journey as a young flamingo.

So, flamingos fall somewhere in between the top and the bottom of the food chain, likely somewhere closer to the bottom than the top, but it can depend on the habitat and part of the world. Flamingos are not often the target of predation, though it’s not for a lack of flavor or nutrients predators crave; flamingos are just usually inconvenient marks. It’s maybe not the ideal reason for why you aren’t being hunted by predators as often as you could be, but it’s better than nothing. It could always be worse - you could be a brine shrimp.

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