The puna flamingo is adapted to feed on minute plankton using its odd-shaped bill to filter through the alkaline lake water. It walks gracefully and aimlessly, pausing from feeding regularly (2).
Until 1957, the breeding grounds of the puna flamingo had not been located. It is now known that puna flamingos gather at nest sites in colonies of thousands of pairs, sometimes mixing with the Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) and the Andean flamingo (Phoenicopterus andinus). These large gatherings of birds display collectively for a long time surrounding the breeding period, although pair bonds appear to form during these displays. Pairs build a truncated cone of mud topped with a shallow bowl in which the female lays a single egg. Breeding will only take place if the water level of the lake is neither too high nor too low. Incubation of the egg is shared between the male and female. Once the chick begins to hatch, the adults may help it to escape from its shell. The bill of the chick is straight at first, but soon gains its characteristic down-curve. The chick spends up to 12 days in the nest after hatching. It becomes darker grey in colour after leaving the nest but will not achieve full adult plumage until three to four years of age (2).
Puna flamingo migration is poorly understood, but flocks are known to leave higher altitude breeding grounds at the end of summer, possibly to move to lower altitudes. However, some birds remain at the breeding site as the hot springs in the area prevent the lakes from freezing in the cold weather (2).