American Flamingo at large


AMERICAN FLAMINGO

 

Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus ruber

Fast Fact:
The American flamingo is the most brightly colored of all flamingo species.

From the Los Angeles Zoo Website

These birds’ most noticeable features are probably their long, skinny legs—which are longer in relation to body size than any other bird. They often stand on just one leg, even while sleeping, with the other tucked up close to their body. Besides being comfortable for the animal, this posture helps reduce heat loss through the legs and feet.

STATUS: American flamingos are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

HABITAT: Flamingos are found in a wide variety of both salt and fresh water habitats, most notably in the shallows of salt lakes, estuaries, and lagoons. American flamingos are from the Caribbean Islands and the nearby mainland coasts.

DIET: These birds eat small shrimp, worms, insect larvae, and aquatic plants. They derive their pink coloration from the natural carotenoid pigment found in the foods they eat. In captivity they are fed a manufactured diet that contains a natural pigment to maintain their color.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The American flamingo has bright pink plumage. Its bill is salmon-colored with a black tip. The flamingo’s long neck and bill, fashioned at a 45-degree angle, are adaptations for the filter feeding system employed by the bird. When the bird puts its head down to feed, the bill is parallel to the bottom and submerged in water. By a tongue pumping action, tiny plants and animals are sifted from the bottom mud and forced through comb-like plates on the edge of the bill.

Flamingo Fun

Flamingos are highly social animals and breed only in colonies that may range in size from a few dozen to tens of thousands of birds. The courtship rituals involve complex synchronized dancing, head flagging, neck stretching, and honking, which can be quite amusing to witness. Nests are built about 5 feet apart and the entire colony will lay eggs at about the same time. Chicks are hatched gray after an incubation period of 27 to 31 days. The characteristic pink color occurs at about two years and they are sexually mature at three.

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