Pick out any one flamingo in a colony, and you might be looking at a joker, a philanderer, or a friend. Flamingos, it turns out, have social systems to rival our own, according to a new study published today in Behavioral Processes. Researchers monitored the behavior of four speciesthe Caribbean, Chilean, Andean, and lesser flamingosover 5 years. In each species, individual flamingos had ongoing romantic partners, same-sex friendships (pictured), and even nemeses, The Guardian reports. These relationships were stable over time, differing from many other birds that form temporary bonds from year to year. Given that flamingos can live for decades in inhospitable environments, they likely put effort into maintaining these social networks throughout their lives, leaning on their friends when times get tough.
sciencemag.org, 14 March 2020