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The flamingo is a beautiful pink wading bird. There are actually 6 different species of flamingos. They are the Greater Flamingo (Africa, Europe, Asia), Lesser Flamingo (Africa, India), Chilean Flamingo (South America), James's Flamingo (South America), Andean Flamingo (South America) and the American Flamingo (Caribbean).
We'll talk mostly here about the American Flamingo which has the scientific name Phoenicopterus ruber. They grow to around 3 to 5 feet tall and weigh around 5 to 6 pounds. The males are generally slightly larger than the females. Flamingo's feathers are usually pinkish red. They also have pink legs and a pink and white bill with a black tip.
Where do Flamingos live?
Different species of Flamingos live throughout the world. The American Flamingo is the only one that lives in the wild in North America. It lives on many Caribbean islands such as the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola. It also lives in northern South America, the Galapagos Islands, and parts of Mexico.
Flamingos live in a habitat of low level water such as lagoons or mudflats or lakes. They like to wade around in the water searching for food. They are very social and sometimes live in large groups of as many as 10,000 birds.
What do they eat?
The Flamingos get most of their food by filtering out the mud and water in their bills to eat insects and crustaceans like shrimp. They get their pink coloring from the pigment in their food, carotenoid, which is the same thing that makes carrots orange.
Can Flamingos fly?
Yes. Although we mostly think of Flamingos wading in the water, they can fly as well. They have to run to gather speed before they can take off. They often fly in large flocks.
Why do they stand on one leg?
Scientists aren't 100% sure why Flamingos stand on one leg, but they have some theories. One says that it's to keep one leg warm. In the cold weather they can keep one leg next to their body helping it to stay warm. Another idea is that they are drying out one leg at a time. A third theory states that it helps them trick their prey, because one leg looks more like a plant than two.
Whatever the reason is, it is truly amazing that these top heavy birds can balance on one leg for hours at a time. They even sleep while balanced on one leg!
Fun Facts about Flamingos
- Parent flamingos take care of their kids for up to six years.
- Flamingos have a number of interesting rituals or displays. One of them is called marching where a tight group of flamingos walks together in one direction and then suddenly switches directions all together at once.
- They are one of the longest living birds, often living up to 40 years old.
- Flamingos make a honking sound like a goose.
- Sometimes flocks in Africa can get as large as 1 million flamingos. These are the largest bird flocks in the world.
- Flamingos make their nests in the mud where they lay one large egg. Both parents watch over the egg.
For more about birds:
Blue and Yellow Macaw - Colorful and chatty bird
Bald Eagle - Symbol of the United States
Cardinals - Beautiful red birds you can find in your backyard.
Flamingo - Elegant pink bird
Mallard Ducks - Learn about this awesome Duck!
Ostriches - The biggest birds don't fly, but man are they fast.
Penguins - Birds that swim
Red-tailed Hawk - Raptor
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