American Flamingo

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Common Name: American or Caribbean Flamingo
Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus ruber

Size: 43 ½ - 46 inches (110-120 cm)

Habitat: Central America; Found in the Caribbean, Florida, Columbia, Venezuela and the Galapagos Islands. Its preferred habitat is shallow, salty lagoons and lakes.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 800,000-880,000. Development, human disturbance, and habitat loss threatens the coastal Caribbean wetlands on which this flamingo depends. The population remains very large and is actually believed to be increasing overall. In 2007, a network of in-situ and ex-situ conservation initiatives was established by the Caribbean Alliance for Flamingo Research and Conservation, to ensure the protection and conservation of the Caribbean flamingo. This includes a range of research and conservation activities coordinated across several countries that fall within the species’ range.

Diet: Crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects, polychaete worms, and algae. Whereas smaller flamingos and other wading birds are restricted to the shallows, the Caribbean flamingo’s great size enables it to wade out into relatively deep water. It rarely takes food from the surface, but instead generally feeds with its whole head submerged underwater. Flamingos will feed at day and night.

Nesting: Males are larger than females, but otherwise the same in appearance. American flamingos reach sexual maturity at about 6 years of age. Breeding can occur in any season, and a flamingo may breed twice in a year. Breeding and nest building may depend on rainfall and its effect on food supply. American flamingos perform structured preening when courtship begins. Group courtship displays are typical of this flamingo, with thousands of individuals raising their wings, turning their heads, or bowing their necks in spectacular synchrony. Engaging in these displays ensures that all members of the colony are ready to mate at the same time. Birds interested in each other will call to one another in unison. Male and female bounding is very strong during breeding season. American flamingos may mate with more than one partner.

A flamingo's nest is made of mud, stones, straw and feathers and may be as high as 12 inches. Both sexes are involved in building the nest from bits of mud piled into a smooth cone, and spaced just beyond pecking distance of other pairs’ nests. A single egg is laid on the top of a tall mound. At hatching the youngster is covered with white down which turns gray in approximately 3 weeks. Young flamingos leave the nest after five days and form groups. But the young will return to the nest to feed on fluid produced in the digestive system of the parents. The adult dribbles this fluid from its mouth into the youngster's bill. After about two weeks, the young start to find their own food.

Cool Facts: The Caribbean Flamingo is the brightest of the Flamingos. This species, with the exception of its black wing flight feathers, varies from bright red to pale pink. This color is based on region and the available food supplies. Chemicals in the crustaceans and algae are what gives the flamingo its pink color; without a crustacean (shrimp) rich diet flamingo feathers are white. For example, flamingos of the Caribbean area have coral red feathers, and South American flamingos have pinkish white feathers.

American flamingos are waders and good swimmers. They congregate in large flocks. Flamingo vocalizations range from nasal honking to growling. Specific calls can be associated with certain behaviors. Vocalizations are used in parents chick recognition.

Found in Songbird Remix Flamingos

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