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The Popular Flamingo has looked into what comes below flamingos on the food chain - if you’re insect larvae living in flamingo waters, you better watch yourself. But what about the other side of the food chain? Do flamingos have predators they have to worry about?
Do Flamingos Have Predators?
In general, predators are not a huge threat to flamingos. Flamingos usually live and feed in areas that don’t have much other life, let alone other life that is big enough and capable of eating them. But that doesn’t mean flamingos don’t have any predators at all.
Different species of flamingos have different predators to monitor. The six flamingo species live in varying parts of the world with varying climates, and that means predators aren’t unified across the bird’s species. For example, lesser flamingos, which are mostly found in southern and eastern Africa and India, have to watch out for lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals and pythons, while Andean flamingos, which you probably guessed live in South America’s Andes, need to avoid Andean foxes and Geoffrey’s cats.
But the main predation flamingos have to fear is from other birds feeding on their eggs. That is more common than land predators getting to these birds because of where they normally live. Fowls that dine on flamingo eggs include the Marabou stork and multiple species of vulture, among others.
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What About the Fox That Attacked Flamingos at the Smithsonian Zoo?
In May, a fox broke its way into the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Bird House exhibit and killed 25 American flamingos and one Northern pintail duck, taking out roughly one-third of the zoo’s flamingo population.
This attack illustrates how important the unique habitats flamingos gravitate to are to their general lack of predation. It’s not that there aren’t a healthy host of animals who would love to sink their teeth into flamingos, but they’re just not normally reachable or worth trying to go after. If you were a hungry predator in the wild, would you chase a meal that’s capable of flight into boiling water, or would you decide to look elsewhere for sustenance? Considering you go to the grocery store to get your food right now, I’d guess the second option.
Where Do Humans Fit Into the Equation?
Humans aren’t predators of flamingos, but we sure do like to mess with their lives. And ultimately, the effect is the same but with deaths in vain rather than continuing the circle of life.
Desert irrigation, mining, road construction, and climate change as a whole have massive effects on flamingos. They alter rainfall patterns, disrupt habitats, and open up more opportunities for predators to reach flamingo living quarters and breeding grounds. People don’t prey on flamingos directly, but our actions have greatly affected many of their lives, as they have affected and will continue to affect the lives of billions of living things on this planet.
That said, human activity hasn’t been a pure negative for flamingos. Flamingos on Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas have done better thanks to human activity because of salt production, which has added food sources and habitat opportunities for the island’s fabulous fowls. But this is not normally how it goes - human activity is overall not helpful for wild flamingos.