Flamingos are among the world’s most beautiful tall birds. One can easily recognize them because they are famous for spending so much time standing on one leg. Covered with pretty pink plumage, black-tipped bills and a large downward-pointing beak, flamingos can often be seen flying in large flocks. With their long neck and legs, they look very attractive when in flight, particularly with their black flight feathers. Let’s gather some more information and fun facts about feathery flamingos.
Image: Pedro Szekely
1. There are six different species of flamingos. The Rosy flamingo or Caribbean flamingo is the only type of flamingo that lives naturally in North America. The most widespread type is the Greater flamingo, which is found in Africa and southwestern Asia. Other species are the Chilean flamingo, Andean flamingo, Lesser flamingo and James’s flamingo.
Image: Rennett Stowe
2. There are 19 bones in a flamingo’s long neck. It’s unusual beak and feathers are made of a tough substance called keratin. The beak plays an important role in the flamingo finding food in muddy areas. Did you know that the bend halfway down the flamingo’s leg is actually its ankle?
3. A very interesting fact about flamingos’ beautiful pink feathers is that it is their diet that makes them colored so; it is high in beta carotene and found in foodstuffs such as algae and prawns.
4. Flamingos often rest on one leg in the shallows. This position is very comfortable for the bird, as it greatly reduces the amount of body heat lost to the cool water. Sometimes, they also sit down on land, especially during the hatching period, to keep their eggs warm.
Image: Tim Ebbs
5. Closely related to grebes, flamingos are very social birds. They love to remain in flocks. Their cone-shaped nest is made up of mud, shells, grass and pebbles, with a flat top and strong base. After the eggs are hatched, cute little chicks are born. These chicks feed on special red-colored ‘milk’ that is very nutritious. The amazing thing is that both the parents feed their youngsters with this milk-like substance.
Image: Giles Douglas
Even though flamingos are not endangered in the wild, they are very vulnerable. These amazing creatures have suffered a lot in past years. In some places people kill them for their fat, which is thought to be a cure for tuberculosis. They also have intraspecies competition for food resources from other birds such as ducks and coots. We must stay alert and continue to work for their rosy future.