American flamingo

Facts about American flamingo

We found 17 facts about American flamingo

Phoenicopterus ruber

The American flamingo is the most common of the species. It inhabits mainly Central America, although it can also be found in Africa, Europe, and Asia. The American flamingos are known for their one-legged stance, in which they rest. In addition, they catch plankton using their upturned head and take naps by laying their head on their trunk. Fortunately, they do not encounter barbarism today, but in ancient Rome, they fell prey to hunters since their tongues were considered a delicacy.

American flamingo
The American flamingo inhabits the islands and coasts of South and Central America.
It can be found in the Galapagos, Colombia and Venezuela’s coasts, the Yucatan peninsula’s northern coast, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands. They also inhabit southern Louisiana, Florida and the Florida Keys archipelago.
They are short-distance migratory birds.
Their journeys are driven mainly by searching for additional food sources or disturbing their current habitat.
They are large wading birds reaching a body length of 120 to 145 cm.
Males are slightly larger than females, with an average weight of 2.8 kg, while females weigh an average of 2.2 kg. The wingspan of flamingos ranges between 140 and 165 cm.
The vast majority of their plumage is pink.
Their wing covers are red, and the first and second-order ailerons are black. The legs and part of the mandible are also pink, while the end of the beak is black.
They are wading birds that are helped in their search for food by their long legs.
They use their feet to chase down aquatic creatures, then fish them out with their beak. Flamingos often wade with their beaks underwater for long periods and can hold their breath for the duration of foraging.
Because flamingos feed on food from salt water, they often drink seawater.
Their organisms have many mechanisms to help regulate osmosis—for example, salt glands on their beaks secreting brine, which is then removed through the nostrils.
During the mating season, males seek females, but eventually, the choice is made by females.
Some individuals mate for the entire season, while others look for more partners. There are sometimes groups of a male and two females, in which one is dominant.
Flamingos usually raise one brood a year.
They usually lay one egg - sometimes two. The egg measures 78 x 49 mm and weighs about 115g. It has an oblong shape resembling a hen’s egg and is white. Just after laying, the egg may have a light blue tint.
At least one parent constantly watches the eggs.
An incubation period lasts 27 to 31 days. The hatching process takes 24 to 36 hours—the young break through the eggshell with a unique “tooth” that falls off soon after hatching.
Freshly hatched flamingos are whitish or gray, with a straight red beak and pink legs.
Shortly after hatching, the chicks’ legs are swollen; the swelling subsides after about 48 hours. The beak colors black after about 1 to 1.5 weeks.
Parents can easily recognize their chick by its appearance and the sounds it makes.
It is essential because flamingos do not feed the chicks of other birds. The young leave the nest after about a week when they are strong enough to move stably on their own—the young group with other chicks, forming a “nursery”. There, parents seek them out at feeding times.
Flamingos feed their young with crop milk, which is red.
It is produced in the upper digestive tract with prolactin hormone. Its composition is similar to mammalian milk, containing about 9% protein and 15% fat. Its color comes from canthaxanthin - a keto-carotenoid pigment - which is then stored by chicks in their liver and used to color their feathers in the future.
The beak of the young does not curve until 11 weeks after hatching.
It allows them to become self-fed. At the same time, chicks begin to grow their first darts. Pink plumage gradually replaces the gray plumage within two to three years.
The young have a lower survival rate than their parents, but a long life awaits them once they reach maturity.
The average lifespan in the wild is 25 years, with a maximum of up to 44. Flamingos kept in captivity live an average of 30 years.
The record holder in life expectancy was a female living at the Adelaide Zoo, Australia.
She was about 60 years old; unfortunately, due to deteriorating health, it had to be euthanized in 2018.
Flamingos living in the Galapagos differ from those living in the Caribbean.
They are smaller, lay smaller eggs, and exhibit more significant sexual differences.
American flamingos are not in danger of extinction. Their population is estimated at 260,000 to 330,000 individuals.
Since their numbers increase yearly, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies flamingos as a species of least concern (LC).
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