All that you need to know about flamingos

With strongly hooked bills and bright feathers, flamingos are probably one of the most easily recognized and beautiful birds in the world. They can be seen easily in the wild around the world, from the Mediterranean, India to Africa, South Africa, and the Caribbean. Let’s check out some interesting facts about this elegant and gorgeous animal.

Basic facts about flamingos

It might be a surprising fact that flamingos are among the oldest bird species on Earth, with primitive fossils remain dating back 30 to 50 million years. Scientists believed that they were distributed more widely across the world in the ancient time, perhaps including Australia, Europe, and North America. However, it was not until 1758 that the first description on flamingos was written by Carl Von Linneas – a prominent Swedish naturalist.

Where do they live?

Currently, flamingos can be found all over the globe, from Africa, Europe, Asia, South America, to the West Indies. However, the majority of the population are living in East Africa and South America. Flamingos often live in sub-tropical and tropical regions, either in large lakes, lagoons or far inland, such as mangrove swamps or tidal flats that are located near the sea. It is easy to see that they like salty conditions and thrive most in extensive mudflats in which they may find a lot of breeding places and food sources. Since the habitat of flamingos come with very high levels of salt, this species is able to drink boiling water from hot springs due to the deficiency in fresh water.

Typical body of flamingos

A typical flamingo often comes with long slender legs, which allows it to wade into the deep water, and webbed feet to help it walk on soft muddy surfaces or even swim when the water is too deep to wade. When swimming, flamingos can be seen as a dense group that floats together on the water surface. In addition, they have lungs with a large capacity for breathing. This can be helpful when they need to hold their breath and feed under water for a long time.

How do flamingos feed?

Flamingos

Flamingos

Basically, flamingos are classified as filter feeders, meaning that they eat tiny animals such as insect larvae, mollusks, shrimp, and algae, which can be found in the bottom mud of shallow pools. With long legs, the can easily wade in deep water to catch and forage. In addition, their shaped and upside down bill contains plates called lamellae that work as filters to trap small creatures in the water. Flamingos use their tongues for sucking in the water and pump out through the sides. As a variety of algae species thrive under extreme habitats such as alkaline lakes that are situated close to saline brackish seas or volcanic mountains, the only choice left for flamingos is to breed and grow in these places.

Why are flamingos feathers pink?

The feathers of Flamingos obtain their gorgeous and sunning pinky and rosy tone from those pigments, which contain astaxanthin , in the species that they eat. In addition, their face and legs have the same color due to the diets, which are often rich in beta and alpha carotenoid elements. Carotenoids are often linked to some protein molecules and would have green or blue colors. After being taken, it dissolves in fats, is carried to the growing features and turns to pink or orange. The same phenomenon can be seen when shrimps change their colors when cooking. The level of the color will depend on the number of pigments in the diet of flamingos. Without carotenoids, the feathers can become very pale.

How many Flamingo species are there?

There are 6 different species of flamingo:
Greater flamingosThe phoenicopterus roseus or greater flamingos are the tallest and largest species with a mature weight of up to 4 kilograms and a height of 1.5 meters. They are mainly characterized by pinky white plumage with black and red spots on their secondary swings feathers. Native to the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, greater flamingos now often breed in southern Spain, France, and some separated areas in central Europe.

Caribbean flamingosThe phoenicopterus ruber or Caribbean flamingos can be found in the Galapagos, Western South America, and most Carribean countries. They mainly live in inland lakes, shallow waters, saline lagoons, and mudflats. Compared to greater flamingos, they have a smaller size, just 1.4 meters. However, they come with the brightest colored feathers among all flamingo species.

Chilean flamingosThe phoenicopterus chilensis or Chilean flamingos look quite similar to greater flamingos but are slightly smaller, about 1.3 meters in height. Their favorable habitats range from Tierra del Fuego to the Andes and central Peru.

Lesser flamingosThe phoeniconaias minor or lesser flamingo inhabit in brackish lakes and saltwater lagoons in North West India, Madagascar, South and East Africa. They are the smallest flamingo species with only 2.5 kilograms in weight and 80 centimeters in height.

Andean flamingosThe Phoenicoparrus andinus or Andean flamingos are an extremely rare species that live mostly in the Andes, from Northwestern Argentina to Chile and Peru. They look quite similar to the Chilean flamingos, but the neck and head are much pinker. Moreover, their legs have a bright yellow color.

Puna flamingosThe last species of flamingo names Puna or James flamingo. They were previously believed to be in extinction from 1924 to 1957, but then were rediscovered in the Andes, Bolivia later. They are very similar to Andean and Chilean flamingos, but smaller than them. During the breed seasons, Puna flamingos often have a band of dark pinkish spots on their breast.

Natural behaviors of flamingos

Naturally, flamingos have many ritual displays that are often performed in groups. If you get a chance to see those behaviors, you would be definitely impressed. For example, they can be seen marching in closely packed and large groups and switching the direction suddenly. What makes most people enjoy this scene is their precise coordination that can create an extremely stunning performance.Flamingos often live and travel in large flocks, which can accommodate up to several thousand birds. On the journey, they may shallow lagoons, tidal swamps, and bays to feed on small fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, small insects, larvae, and algae.

Over a Million Flamingos Video:

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24. April 2018 | Posted in Animals
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