The flamingo lives wild in most of the globe’s continents. There are five different species: the chile flamingo, the great flamingo, the little flamingo, the duck flamingo and the puna flamingo. The flamingo name comes from the Latin word “flamenco” which means “fire”. It refers to the flamingo’s magnificent plumage.
Facts about the flamingo
|Location:||Southern Europe, Africa and South America, Southwest Asia|
|Life expectancy:||20-30 years|
|Size:||140-165 centimeters long|
|Food:||Algae, bacteria and crustaceans|
|Fun fact:||What looks like a flamingo’s knee is actually its ankle. You can see the flamingo’s “knee” bending inward.|
According to DigoPaul, the flamingo is a bird that is incredibly easy to recognize. With its distinctive pink, red and pink feathers, the flamingo can be seen from a long distance. Its legs are eminently long, and can grow up to a meter, which is very atypical of birds. The legs are also atypical in the sense that the knees are located above the chest, and what actually looks like the knees are the bird’s ankles. This explains why a flamingos’ legs bend inwards.
Furthermore, it has a very long neck – almost snake-like neck. The neck is proportional to the long legs, and it is therefore not impossible for the flamingo with yoga-like movements to reach the seabed with straight legs. The flamingo’s beak sits in the middle of its face and is slightly bent. Its feet are provided with swimming skin, just like in other oar-footed birds. The flamingo has black tips on its relatively small wings. This is clearly seen when the flamingo flies. Here the legs, neck and wings are stretched out completely and it looks absolutely graceful when flying through the air.
Flamingos feed on various small crustaceans, plants and algae. It thus eats small crustaceans, brush worms, snails, insects, and insect larvae. In rare cases, they may also find themselves taking crabs, small fish and ants. Of vegetarian diet, the flamingo eats seeds and shoots from aquatic plants. Furthermore, it eats a lot of mud, in which algae and bacteria live. The flamingo has a very special beak that enables it to filter the algae from the mud. Along the edge of the beak sit a series of slats and fine hairs, which allow water and mud to run out while, the food is held firmly in the mouth. The flamingo constantly sucks in water, filters it, and then pushes it out again. This circular motion makes the flamingo able to do 5-6 times a second. The flamingo can, with its inwardly bent beak, use the beak to ‘sweep’ the sandy bottom free of bait. The flamingos can also, like another mallard, turn their backs on the end and dive for the food. It can search for food at depths as low as 130 meters.
Flamingos find food where many others would give up. They find their food in alkaline salt lakes all over the world. Here, the PH value can often hit levels above 10 in value. The flamingo’s house is particularly suitable for those conditions where not even humans can reside. Human skin on hands and feet would slowly corrode under these conditions. In many places, these salt lakes are incredibly hot. Flamingos can easily thrive in lakes with 70 degree hot water, and without problems also drink water approaching the boiling point. The flamingo is thus a bird that, if anyone, has adapted to special conditions. In areas where it almost gets a monopoly over food, because no other animals can thrive in these alkaline lakes.
Flamingos live together in large colonies. They make a great virtue out of the fact that mating takes place simultaneously in the colonies, which is why the flamingo has a very special mating ritual associated with the session. The sexually mature flamingos gather in flocks where they dance together with slightly shaking heads. After this, the flamingos find the mate they want to be with for the rest of their lives. The pair makes a nest of mud that is about 25 cm high and 35-45 cm in diameter. If the flamingos live in places where there is no mud, they build the nest of stone. Here the female lays one egg, which both parties help to incubate. Despite the flamingo’s long legs, it is not impossible for it to pull its legs up under it, which is why it easily has the opportunity to incubate the egg. It makes it approx. one month. Even before the baby has hatched, it begins to be able to communicate with its parents. For flamingos, communication is extremely important. This is what makes flamingos know the difference between each other, and thus hear who your young are among the many small chicks.
The flamingo is a small white, downy baby bird, where the beak is still straight and has not taken the conical shape. After a few weeks, the color changes to gray-brown shades, before developing the red color within the next few years. For the first 5-8 days, the young remain in the nest, after which it gradually begins to explore the area around it. It is very lively. It runs around on its relatively short legs and swims with other flamingos. In the first 2-3 weeks, the flamingo is fed with a special secret that both the male and the female can vomit up to the young. It is a kind of body milk from the flamingo’s mucous membranes that contains an incredible amount of fat and protein. After 3 months, the young can begin to follow the flock on flights, but are only fully developed as a 2-year-old. When it is approx. 3 years it is sexually mature, and ready to find its own partner.
Flamingos breed in very large flocks. In Europe, 20,000 flamingos have been spotted breeding in one place, while in places in India over 200,000 flamingos have been seen in the same place where you can experience it on Sri Lanka travels .
The flamingo is one of the animals that lives under the anecdote “together we are strong”. It’s about something a herd animal. The most amazing sight is when thousands of flamingos gather at the same salt lake to breed. They like to do this during wet periods, while during droughts and winter time they move to new areas. They fly at night. Due to their relatively short wings, the flamingo can “only” fly 500-600 km per. night. The flamingo is very social. Whether it eats, rests or breeds, it is always surrounded by a large flock of thousands of birds. The flamingos help each other when it comes to childcare. They function almost like each other’s aunts, and thus take a large part in the upbringing of flamingo boys.
The flamingo has the scientific name Phoenicopteridae. It means translated from Portuguese “flame” and refers to the flamingo’s red plumage. The flamingo is found in five categories where there are no significant differences in their appearance. The difference lies in their size and partly their color. The five species are named: the great flamingo, the Chilean flamingo, the little flamingo, the duck flamingo and the puna flamingo. In addition to the relatives found among the flamingos, the flamingo also belongs to the category of storks. Thus, the flamingo and the Danish stork are in a family together. The same goes for the heron which, like the flamingo and the stork, has characteristic long legs.
Travelers’ questions about the flamingo
Yes, in principle you can say that they do.
When it is mating season, the flamingos do everything to influence each other to start their mating ritual. They are a very social animal, so all flamingos should preferably participate in the ritual. The mating ritual a very impressive and distinctive behavior. In close quarters, the flamingos almost dance synchronous dance to stimulate each other to become partners for life. The mating dance takes place for a few days. In its simplicity, it means that all sexually mature flamingos walk quietly in the salt lake, while in small quick jerks they move their heads from side to side. The females then select a mate. It does so by almost gracefully nodding to the male as a welcoming gesture. When all flamingos dance at the same time, they will also lay eggs at the same time, which is quite practical, as there are more to look after the young.
How does the flamingo get its pink color?
The pink color of the flamingos is not due to the fact that they are “just born that way”, as one e.g. see it with parrots and budgies. The feather splendor of flamingos depends on their diet.
Flamingos feed on crayfish, aliens and microbacteria. In the crayfish that live in the salt lakes where the flamingos live, the dye canthaxanthin is found, which is the substance that gives the flamingos their red color. It is a substance that in many ways resembles beta-carotene, which gives carrots its yellowish color. The more flamingos eat of canthaxanthin substance, the darker their color. It also means that if there is not enough of the red color in the food the flamingo eats, it will become lighter over time. It has long been wondered why flamingos in zoos became brighter over time and the lack of canthaxanthin was the answer. This is also why it takes a long time for cubs to develop the magnificent feather splendor. It can exactly take up to 3 years before the cubs get the characteristic red color.
Why does the flamingo stand on one leg?
Flamingos sometimes have it in a position where one leg is pulled all the way up under the plumage, and thus occupies a position where it balances on its one ultra-thin leg. Flamingos stand on one leg for two reasons.
One is to rest the leg while the other is to keep warm. When the weather is cold, the flamingo easily loses heat from its long thin legs – especially when standing in water. When the flamingo parks its one leg close to the body, it reduces heat loss and can thus retain heat. Flamingos are able to lock the ankle so it can keep its balance even when asleep. It can thus stand completely stable by letting the center of gravity be vertical over the supporting foot. It is therefore not uncommon to see flamingos sleeping on one leg, as they can easily keep their balance even in their sleep.