The Social Pink Flamingoes
Pink flamingo also known as the social birds is one of the oldest species of birds with a history that dates back up to 50 million years. These birds with pink feathers, long necks, thin legs and hooked bills can be seen from far away, thousands of them living together in a single colony.
Pink Flamingos are generally found close to the sea, near large lakes and lagoons. They generally don’t migrate but if there is a change in the water level or climate, they will always migrate at night time in the form of their colony, all together.
The tallest flamingo has a height in between 3.9 feet to 4.7 feet and carries a weight of up to 7.7 lbs. The shortest, on the other hand, is approx. 2.6 feet tall and weigh up to 5.5. Lbs.
From the Caribbean to Africa, South America, India and the Mediterranean, there are six different species of flamingoes found which are as below:
· Phoeniconaias minor or Lesser flamingo
· Phoenicoparrus andinus or Andean flamingo
· Phoenicoparrus jamesi or James' flamingo or puna flamingo
· Phoenicopterus chilensis or Chilean flamingo
· Phoenicopterus roseus or Greater Flamingo
· Phoenicopterus ruber or American flamingo or Caribbean Flamingo
Flamingoes live on small insects, larva, molluscs, blue-green and red algae, crustaceans and small fish. They are omnivorous in nature and can eat both vegetables and meat.
The food of flamingoes also depends on its beak. Lesser, James and Andean Flamingoes have a deep-keeled bill and they live on algae. Greater, American and Chilean flamingoes have shallow-keeled bills and they eat insects, small fish and invertebrates.
What makes them pink?
Flamingoes eat algae which contain beta-carotene, which is an organic chemical with a reddish-orange pigment. The same Beta-carotene is also present in molluscs and crustaceans, plants and vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach, sweet potato, carrots.
Since this pink color is due to the Carotenoid present in their food, and food around them varies in quality as per the location, you will notice that flamingoes all around the world have different shades of pink. American Flamingoes have a bright red and orange color and lesser flamingoes have a pale pink shade to their body.
Not to be strange, if flamingoes don’t get food with carotenoids, the new feathers that grow will be pale in color and their signature pink feathers will lose their pink tone and soon shed away.
Flamingoes live in colonies or flock; they protect each other, eat together, and also mate together. Being very faithful to their mating partner and monogamous in nature, a flamingo will stay with the partner it has mated forever. It is also said that a group of flamingoes will mate together, at the same time and their chicks all hatch at the same time too. The female partners lay one egg at a time while the male partner makes a nest of muds to keep the eggs protected.
Flamingo eggs are larger than chicken eggs. An average egg takes 27-31 to hatch and will be as small as 2.5-3.2 ounces. They are born in white or grey color and turn pink as they grow. A flamingo baby is said to be mature in 3-5 years while the average life of a wild flamingo is up to 20-30 years. However, flamingoes that live in the zoo are given special care and high-quality food which extends their life up to 50 years.
· Flamingoes are known to stand on one leg and can also sleep in this position without any discomfort.
· Despite being tropical birds, flamingoes can easily live in cold habitats if they have sufficient water and food around.
· Nearly all species look alike and only trained personnel can distinguish between all six types.
· The largest flock was gathered in East Africa, with more than 1 million flamingoes together
· Their beaks are naturally designed to strain the tiny creatures from mud and water.
· Flamingoes eat with their head up-side-down. They stir mud with their feet and bend down to scoop mud and water with their beak.
· The rarest of all species is the American Flamingo while the most found species is the Lesser Flamingo and Greater Flamingo.
· Not all the feathers are pink in color but they have flight feathers in black which can only be seen when flamingoes are flying.
· Flamingoes mate together as if they are spinning and dancing.
· Both male and female flamingoes build a nest for their egg, on which they sit together to protect it until it hatches.
· Mating pairs are extra careful about their nests as their nests are often stolen by predators and others flamingoes.
· Once the egg hatches, both parents feed the chick in turns with a special baby liquid called crop milk which is produced in their throats.
· Flamingoes are fair in number hence not considered as endangered species.