Flamingos form lifelong friendships according to West Country study

A five-year study in the West Country has revealed a fascinating new insight into the life of flamingos.

The long-legged wading birds form friendships that last for years and consistently spend time with specific close “friends”.

Watch flamingos arguing, feeding and nesting:

The University of Exeter examined four flamingo species at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire, where researchers found social bonds including “married” couples and same-sex friendships.

But flamingos are not all sweetness and light - they also avoid certain individuals, which suggests that some of them just don’t get on.

Caribbean flamingos at Slimbridge Credit: Paul Rose, WWT Slimbridge

Flamingos have long lives – some of the birds in this study have been at Slimbridge since the 1960s.

Researchers examined flocks of Caribbean, Chilean, Andean and Lesser flamingos.

The flocks varied in size from just over 20 to more than 140, and the findings suggest larger flocks contained the highest level of social interactions.

And this information could now help manage captive flamingos and further our understanding their wild behaviors.

Flamingo friends: long-lasting relationships are important for survival in the wild. Credit: Paul Rose, WWT Slimbridge