HomeScience and ResearchAnimal StudiesFlamingos Don't Just Look Alike – They Are Alike

Flamingos Don’t Just Look Alike – They Are Alike

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Like humans, A Flamingo’s Social Life Is Much More Complicated Than We Previously Thought

A new study indicates that flamingos tend to create social groups consisting of individuals with similar characteristics within their flocks.

Scientists looked at the personalities and social habits of flamingos from the Caribbean and Chile.

Both types of birds liked to hang out with others that shared their traits.

Recent research conducted by the University of Exeter and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) has unveiled the intricate structure of flamingo societies, which could potentially help in the management of captive flocks.

As revealed by new study a flamingo’s social life is much more complicated than we first realized

Previous studies by Dr. Paul Rose of the WWT and the University of Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour have demonstrated that individual flamingos have specific “friends” within the flock.

With this new study, they “wanted to find out whether individual character traits explain why these friendships form.

https://youtu.be/uKAyvWMapbM

“The answer is yes – birds of a feather flock together.

Flamingos Display Personality Traits Similar To Humans

“For example, bolder birds had stronger, more consistent ties with other bold birds, while submissive birds tended to spend their time with fellow submissive flamingos.”

Flamingo’s “personality” was evaluated by quantifying stable individual characteristics like aggression and exploratory drive.

According to Fionnuala McCully, now at the University of Liverpool, who gathered data for the research while doing an MSc Animal Behaviour degree at the University of Exeter, “Like humans, flamingos appear to carve out different roles in society based on their personality.”

“For example, we observed groups of aggressive birds which attempt to dominate rivals and tend to get in more fights.

New study finds Flamingos form cliques with like-minded pals

“Meanwhile, the role of submissive birds may be more complex than simply being lower down the pecking order – they may be using a different approach to get what they need.

“The various different personality groups provide social help to their members, for example by supporting each other in the many squabbles that take place in flamingo flocks.”

With the Caribbean flamingos, each personality type of bird had a specific function within the flock as a whole, but this was not the case in the Chilean flock. It’s not clear why this is happening, but a larger study of wild birds might find a similar pattern.

Like humans, A Flamingo’s Social Life Is Much More Complicated Than We Previously Thought

In order to better understand the development of social behavior and to increase the wellbeing of zoo animals, Dr. Rose indicated that additional research is necessary.

“But it is clear from this research that a flamingo’s social life is much more complicated than we first realised.”

The conclusions are based on observations made of flamingos kept in captivity at WWT Slimbridge.

Image Credit: Xue Jun/VCG via Getty Images

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