Flamingo bird<<<< Back to birds
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Sauropsida
- Order: Phoenicopteriformes
- Family: Phoenicopteridae
- Genus: Phoenicopterus
- Conservation status: Least concern
- Length: 1 m (40 inch)
- Habitat: Large lakes and plant less lagoons
- Food: Algae, Fish, Insects
- Predators: Eagles, Wild dogs
- Weight: 1 - 4 kg (2.2 - 8.8 lbs)
- Speed: 50 - 60 km/h (30 - 50mph)
- Clutch size: 1 Egg
- Lifespan: 20 - 30 years
Flamingos are birds that belong to the Phoenicopterus genus and Phoenicopteridae family. To date, there are six flamingo species, all belonging to a single genre. The first flamingo that bred in captivity was a Chilean flamingo from the zoo in Basel. Since then over 389 flamingos were reproducedand distributed to zoos around the world. In ancient Rome flamingo tongues were considered a delicacy. Also, miners hunted flamingo birds for their fat which was considered a cure for tuberculosis. The ancient Egyptians believed that the flamingo was the living representation of the god Ra.
They sit with their long legs in shallow water. They stick their beak in the water and practically sweep with their head from side to side in search of food. The main diet consists of blue-green algae, red algae, larvae, insects, crustaceans, mollusks and small fish. The pinkish and reddish color comes from the carotenoids alpha and beta. The richest sources of carotenoids are found in algae and various invertebrates that make up most part of the diet.
Flamingos stand on one leg for long periods of time, the other is raised and kept close to the body. The reason is not fully understood, but some suggest that flamingos, and other animals, have the capacity to keep half of the body in a state of somnolence, and when refreshed the bird leans on the other leg in order to rest the other half of the body. This is not proven yet. Recent research has indicated that the bird keeps one leg close to the body to preserve body heat, because they spend a lot of time in the cold water searching for food. Flamingo chicks are born with gray plumage, but adults colors vary from light pink to fiery red due to aqueous bacteria and the beta carotene obtained while feeding. A healthy flamingo has a vivid color, while a sick individual will have a pale white color. Their strangely shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate the mud and silt from the food.Subspecies:
- Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) - South Africa
- American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) - Caraibe and Florida area
- Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) - South Europa and SW Asia
- Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) - Africa and India
- Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus) - Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina
- James's flamingo - (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) - Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina
This bird reaches sexual maturity a few years after hatching and usually starts to breed at the age of 6 years. The flamingo colonies breed at different times of the year depending on the breed. Pairings in the colony occur in the same time for the chicks to hatch in a shorter period. Males resort to rituals when courting begins. They keep their beaks upwards with their neck extended, boasting. Once chosen, the partners have a strong and loyal relationship, however exceptions were observed when some individuals mated with more than one partner. The nest is build from clay, small stones, straws and feathers. It can reach up tp 30cm in size; protects against heat and floods. Both partners participate in building the nest.
The flamingo feeds its chicks with milk, produced due to the action of a hormone called prolactin, like with doves and pigeons. It contains more fat and less protein and is produced by glands located along the digestive tract. Both parents care for the young chicks, which are fed this milk that contains white and red cells. After about two months after birth they begin to feed on their own.
Did you know that:
The flamingo is a bird known for its beauty and elegance.
Ancient Egyptians believed that the flamingo was the living representation of the god Ra.
The flamingos are pink because they eat lots of blue-green algae.
Unfortunately there are more plastic flamingos than real ones.