American Flamingo

The Flamingo, its habitat and diet.

Some on related species, its behavior and additional links to other resources on Flamingos

American Flamingo

The Flamingo is a close relative to geese and ducks. The Flamingo measures approximately five feet from its bill to its toes. They have long legs and webbed toes. The American Flamingo, is a colorful red and pink but when kept in captivity it loses the bright coloration unless it is fed a diet of shrimp and food rich in substances necessary to maintain its bright color. In captivity its plumage takes on a dull pink appearance. Its wings are long and pointed and its tail short.

The Flamingo feeds off living creatures in muddy bays. The bill is red with a black tip. It evolved a bent beak with edges that work like a strainer. The Flamingo puddles in the water, holding its head upside down and scoops backwards. When the bill is closed the sand is strained out. Flamingos typically eat Ceritheum a genus of small mollusks.

Taxonomic Hierarchy
American Flamingo
Kingdom Animalia – Animal, animals
Phylum Chordata – chordates
Subphylum Vertebrata – vertebrates
Class Aves – Birds
Order Phoenicopteriformes – Flamingos, flamants
Family Phoenicopteridae Bonaparte, 1831 – Flamingos
Genus Phoenicopterus Linnaeus, 1758 – Greater Flamingos
Species Phoenicopterus ruber Linnaeus, 1758 – Greater Flamingo, flamant rose, American Flamingo

Phoenicopterus ruber, Linnaeus, 1758, Taxonomic Serial No.: 174976

Flamingos flight begins with running forward, flapping their wings and increasing speed until skimming the surface of the water. After gaining enough momentum, their wings become able to lift them into flight. To land they simply reverse the process.

The call of the Flamingo is quite similar to that of Geese, sounding much like a deep honk.

Today the Flamingo is found living in colonies, mainly in the West Indies. They live and breed in swamps, ponds and lagoons, breeding in May and June. Their nests consist of mud scooped up to about a foot wide, and a foot above the surface of a muddy embankment. The top of the nest is hollowed out with the Flamingo's bill wherein they typically lay one or two large eggs.

Both male and female participate in nest sitting. The incubation period for an egg is 28 days and the hatchling must be fed regurgitated food by its parents for several months.

References and Further Reading

  • Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia, Volume 14, 1951
  • Wild Birds, 1955 Maxton Publishers. Dean Amadon, Ph.D, Curator of Birds, The American Museum of Natural History

  • American Flamingo, Males are larger than females, but otherwise the same in apperance. The American flamingo may be up to 57 inches in length. The average weight is 6 to 8 pounds.  The American flamingo has long legs that are ideal for wading in water. The color of a flamingo's feathers, except for some black wing feathers, varies from bright red to pale pink. For example, flamingos of the Caribbean area have coral red feathers, and South American flamingos have pinkish white feathers. Chemicals in the crustaceans are what gives the flamingo its pink color. Coloration of the feet and legs is the same. What appears to be the flamingo's knee is actually its ankle. The American flamingo has a boomerang shaped beak that can filter out water and trap food. Its beak is referred to as a "Roman nose." The American flamingo has a wingspan of 150 cm (59 in).
  • Photos of the American Flamingo
    This page contains numerous photographs of Flamingos.
    The flamingo is a long (135 cm) bird, that breeds in the Carribean, for instance on the island of Bonaire. But it breeds also in the north of Brazil (Amapá). In south and middle America it is somewhat more red than birds of the same species from Europe, Asia and Africa. It does not breed in Suriname (although a colony was still around in 1930), but it visits the coast in large groups. In the seventies more birds have been reported from the east then from the west coast, the last years it is just the other way around. When they fly, flamingos are easily recognisable by their long legs.
  • The Flamingo is resident in the United States only in the vicinity of Cape Sable, Florida, where flocks of sometimes a thousand of these rosy vermillion creatures are seen. A wonderful sight indeed. Mr. D. P. Ingraham spent more or less of his time for four seasons in the West Indies among them. He states that the birds inhabit the shallow lagoons and bays having soft clayey bottoms. On the border of these the nest is made by working the clay up into a mound which, in the first season is perhaps not more than a foot high and about eight inches in diameter at the top and fifteen inches at the base. If the birds are unmolested they will return to the same nesting place from year to year, each season augmenting the nest by the addition of mud at the top, leaving a slight depression for the eggs.
  • Adopt a Flamingo and Support Conservation
    Pink Beauties that Stay Close to Water
    Few animals rival the flamingo for beauty and grace. The spectacle of thousands of flamingos flying over water is one of the most breathtaking in nature. [...] There are six species of flamingos, each with a different shade of pink, color pattern, and leg color. They range from 2.5 to four feet tall. Flamingos have webbed feet and tend to stand on only one leg when resting. Some believe that their closest living relatives are swans, ducks, and geese; others suggest that, based on recent genetic analyses, the long-legged flamingo’s closest cousin is the grebe, which has short legs built for diving. The flamingo lives in many types of water bodies, including shallow lakes, marshes, freshwater, and salt water. They tend to live in tropical areas, but can tolerate colder environments as long as the water doesn’t freeze. They can be found in South America, Africa, parts of Asia, and the Caribbean.
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