Flamingos have a way of fascinating almost everyone. Maybe it is their beautiful color or their unusual posture in the water, or perhaps it is just their overall essence. These birds have fascinating facts associated with them – for example, did you know that flamingos are one of the most commonly recognizable wading birds (a waterbird, particularly one with long legs, that wades habitually) all over the world and that these birds are incredibly social? Read on to learn some more interesting Pink Flamingo facts.
Common Name and Scientific Name of Flamingo
Though flamingos are wading birds, grebes (a species of diving waterbirds) are their closest genetic relative. Flamingos are a part of the genus Phoenicopterus, and these birds are the only members of the family Phoenicopteridae. These birds constitute the family Phoenicopteridae, which is the individual family in the order Phoenicopteriformes. Flamingos are sometimes classified in the order Ciconiiformes (storks and herons) but also show resemblances to Charadriiforms (shorebirds), Anseriformes (geese and ducks), and Pelecaniformes (pelicans and cormorants).
There are six flamingo species in total. Four of these species are found in the Caribbean and America, while the other two are located in Asia, Europe, and Africa. There are various species of flamingos found all over the world. The greater flamingo, on the other hand, is the largest of the flamingo species and has the palest pink color of all the flamingo species. The greater flamingo can reach a height of up to 5 feet but strangely weighs only up to 8 lbs! The smallest flamingo within the flamingo species is the lesser flamingo, with a weight of 2.6 to 6 pounds and a height of 2.6 to 3 feet. The one thing that is common across all flamingos is their long legs. The legs of a flamingo can reach anywhere from 30-50 inches, and this length of their legs is more than their entire bodies! The Andean flamingo is the only known species with yellow legs.
Another interesting fact about flamingos is that these birds can fly. We may think of flamingos as wading creatures mostly, but the reality is that they do fly. To gain speed, flamingos have to run before they can take off into the air, and one can mostly see them flying when there are present in their flocks. The speed of the entire flamingo flock can reach anywhere from 30-37 miles per hour!
What Are The Various Species of Flamingo
Flamingos originate from a massive line of an ancient bird lineage, with fossils similar to our modern-day flamingos dating around 30 million years ago! Following are the common names and the scientific names of 6 flamingo species along with their traits:
- Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus Chilensis): These species have a large bill that curves downwards. Their wings are slender, and their primary and secondary flying feathers are black, with red wing coverts. The Chilean flamingo’s pink cap over its ankle joints is another distinguishing feature. Chilean flamingos are found in the temperate part of South America from Ecuador and Peru to Chile and Argentina and east to Brazil.
- Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias Minor): Found in coastal and inland wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa and India. These are the smallest flamingo species globally, with long dark tricolored bill and red legs.
- Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus Roseus): Found in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and southern Europe. They have long “coat hanger” necks, big kinked bills, and very long pinkish legs.
- American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus Ruber): These species are about 42 inches tall and have pink feathers and black-tipped wings along with a very long neck, long pink legs, and webbed pink feet with three toes.
- Andean Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus Andinus): The larger flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) found in Africa, Asia, and parts of southern Europe was long regarded as the same species like the American flamingo, but it is now considered a different species. It is the only species of flamingo native to North America.
- Puna (Jame”) Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus Jamesi): Populates the high altitudes of Andean plateaus of Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and northwest Argentina. The bill tip of these flamingos is black, and the base is dark yellow lined with red along the edge and around the eye. Their feet are red.
One trait that sets flamingos apart from the rest of the birds is that flamingos usually stand with one foot tucked under their bodies. This means that flamingos can stand on one leg without much physical effort. One theory proposes that they stand with one leg under their body to conserve their body heat in the cold water of the areas they feed, but this theory has not been confirmed. Surprisingly, a study exhibited that this behavior of flamingos standing on one leg does not add to any muscle strain to their legs. Thus no one knows why do flamingos stand on one foot.
The blue flamingos are known as Aenean Phoenicopteri and are found in the Galapagos Islands. One of the most interesting Blue Flamingo facts is that these creatures feed on bluefish and shrimp that live around the island.
What Is The Size of A Flamingo?
The lesser flamingo is the smallest amongst the entire flamingo species, measuring up to weighing only 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.) and 80 cm (31.5 in.) and weighing only 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.). The greater flamingo is the tallest worldwide, measuring up to 120 to 150 cm (47-59 in). The male flamingo reaches its full size by the time they are two years. Male flamingos are a little bigger than females – they weigh more and have longer wingspans. However, the visual sex determination of flamingos is quite tricky. For the lesser flamingo, the wingspan varies from 90 to 100 cm (37-39 in.) whereas, for the greater flamingo, the wingspan ranges from 130 to 165 cm (55-65 in.). However, the Caribbean flamingo has a wingspan of around 150 cm (59 in.).
Where Do They Live?
One of the most common Flamingo habitat facts is that these birds favor and prefer low aquatic habitats, comprising lagoons, tidal flats, swamps, islands, and lakes. The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) breeds in large colonies in southern Europe, Africa’s coasts, and southwestern Asia. There are two subspecies of the greater flamingo: the Old World flamingo (P. ruber roseus) of Africa and southern Europe and Asia and the Caribbean flamingo (P. ruber ruber).
What Do Flamingos Eat?
Flamingos primarily feed on larvae, algae, and small crustaceans, as they can be generally found near swamps, lakes, and wetlands. They also feed on mollusks and shrimps. Flamingos filter the food they eat from the muddy water below with the help of their outstanding bills. The bill of a flamingo is modified for filter feeding, and their fleshy tongues also help in this process. Flamingos are always on the lookout for freshwater for drinking, though most flamingos are found near lakes with large salt concentrations. Sometimes, flamingos also have to seek their freshwater from boiling geysers.
How Long Do They Live?
These birds have an average lifespan of 20-30 years in the wild. However, it has been known that their lifespan can reach up to 50 years old or also longer in captivity. Researchers have observed that Flamingos do not do well in small numbers. They need a lot of members of their species around them to survive. This is probably why a zoo has 20 to 30 of them in a group.
While mating, the Flamingos pair up and then stay with each other to make a nest for the egg, working as a team to keep their egg safe and warm for about 30 days until it is ready to hatch. Both the male and female flamingos produce milk for their younger ones instead of regurgitated foods that other birds give their young.
Where Are They Seen Mostly?
All flamingos are typically found in subtropical and tropical areas. Populations of Chilean flamingos are located in central Peru, both the coasts of South America (especially in the winter), Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia, and southern Brazil. Stragglers have been reported on Ecuador and the Falkland Islands. These birds are incredibly social, and they survive on interaction with each other. The largest group of Flamingos is in East Africa, where a single colony includes more than 1 million members.
Other Fun Facts and Information About Flamingo For Children
The word “Flaming” originates from the Spanish and Latin word “flamenc,” which refers to fire. Thus, the name flamingo refers to the bright and vibrant color of the feathers of a flamingo. Flamingos are generally non-migratory birds. Following are some more Flamingo trivia:
- Flamingos are born light gray or white.
- Their pink color appears as they consume food.
- These birds do breathe air but have a great capacity to hold their breath when they are under the water hunting for food.
- Flamingos are known to sleep, and they can do so standing up or laying down.
- It is believed that a portion of their brain sleeps at a time not to lose their balance.
Though flamingos are considered to be tropical birds, the fact is that these birds can also live and thrive in cold environments for as long as they can access food and water. More than a million flamingos have been known to gather in East Africa, thus forming the largest flock known. Flamingos are indeed one of the most unique and beautiful creatures that have ever existed, and we hope that we have covered all the fun facts related to these birds.