Sunday Fun Bird Facts
This post is sponsored by SAASA and Birds of Eden
Fun Facts about Flamingos
Flamingo – fun facts
1 - There are six distinct species of Flamingo, but it takes a trained eye to distinguish them. All flamingos belong to the bird family Phoenicopteridae, and they are the only members of that scientific bird family. The American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is the only Flamingo species native to North America but is rarely seen in the United States anymore. It is generally more brightly coloured than the Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) that inhabits the coasts of Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. Although the Greater Flamingo is the most widespread species, the most numerous is the Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor). The Andean Flamingo is the most threatened of all Flamingo species, and estimates show there may be less than 30,000 of these birds left in the wild.
2 – In the wild Flamingos tend to congregate in mudflats or lagoons, where they can find shallow saltwater prey. These habitats are also difficult for predators to negotiate.
3 - Flamingos feed by stirring up mud with their feet. Then they reach down and scoop up a beakful of mud and water. Their beaks are designed to strain grubs out of the mud, and the muddy water is expelled. This happens as the flamingo’s head is upside-down. Their pink colour comes from beta-carotene in the crustaceans and plankton that Flamingos eat.
4 - The backward bending "knee" of a flamingo's leg is actually the bird's ankle. The actual knee is very close to the body and is not visible through the bird's plumage.
5 - The feathers under their wings, known as flight feathers, are black. You only see them when the birds are flying.
6 – In the wild Flamingos flock in groups of up to several hundred birds. They often perform their mating displays together; one could call it their flamingo flamenco. The word "flamingo" comes from the Spanish and Latin word "flamenco" which means fire and refers to the bright colour of the birds' feathers. Not all flamingos are brightly coloured, however, and some of the birds are mostly gray or white. The strength of a flamingo's colouration comes from its diet. Younger birds also have less colouration.
7 - The male and female of a mating pair build a nest together, and both sit on the egg while it incubates for about a month. Some Flamingos find it easier to steal a nest that’s already been built, so mating pairs must guard a nest from other flamingos as well as predators. When a chick hatches, both parents take turns feeding it: first with a special liquid baby food they produce in their throats called crop milk, then with regurgitated regular Flamingo food as the chick ages.
8 – The most prominent threats to Flamingos include predators, habitat loss, and illegal poaching for decorative feathers. In some areas, humans illegally hunt flamingos to gather eggs as food or to harvest their tongues as meat.
9 - Don Featherstone of Massachusetts invented the pink plastic lawn flamingo (Phoenicopterus plasticus), which has been gracing lawns since 1957. The "official" pink flamingo is from Union Products, though the patents and official molds for the classic lawn birds have been transferred to different companies. These birds are still in production today and now there are more plastic flamingos in America than there are real ones. In 2009, Madison, Wisconsin, named the plastic pink flamingo the city’s official bird.
Come back next week for more exciting fun facts from SAASA and Birds of Eden here on Lets Go Big Tunes blog page