Flamingos are a type of wading bird with four of the species distributed throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean, and two species native to Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Here are a few interesting facts about Flamingos
- Density: Adult flamingos are around five feet tall but only weigh between four and eight pounds. That’s the kind of unusual body density needed to fly. The apparent ‘knee’ of the flamingo is actually ankled joint. The real knee is close to the body and is not visible because of the feathers.
- Sucking or Eating: When they eat, their head is upside-down. They engulf water which separates the food. They hold their breath while feeding. Their diet includes shrimps, algae, crustaceans. Their beaks are outlined to strain animals out of the mud, and the muddy water is pushed away.
- Native, Non-Native: The American flamingo is the only flamingo species indigenous to North America but is rarely seen in the United States anymore. It is generally more vividly colored than the Greater flamingo that inhabits the shorelines of Africa, Asia, and southern Europe.
- Pink Color: The Color pink comes from beta-carotene in the crustaceans and plankton that flamingos eat. Zoo flamingos turn white if their diet is not enriched with live shrimp or flamingo chow holding carotenoid pigments.
- Standing Paradox: Flamingos normally stand on one leg while the other is hidden under their bodies. The reason for this practice is not fully understood. One theory is that persisting on one leg allows the birds to preserve more body heat, given that they spend a lot of time paddling in cold water. However, the behavior also takes place in warm water and is also observed in birds that do not typically stand in water. Another theory is that standing on one leg reduces the energy expenditure for producing muscular effort to stand and balance on one leg. A study on bodies showed that the one-legged pose could be held without any muscle activity while living flamingos exhibit substantially less body sway in a one-legged posture. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.
- Breeding Rituals: Flamingos are social birds; they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands or even more. These large colonies are thought to serve three purposes for the flamingos: avoiding predators, maximizing food intake, and using scarcely suitable nesting sites more efficiently. Before breeding, flamingo colonies split into breeding groups of about 15 to 50 birds. Both males and females in these groups perform mysterious ritual displays. The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, then uttering calls while head-flagging, and then flapping their wings.