Category: American flamingo (phoenicopterus ruber) fact sheet

American flamingo, Caribbean flamingo, Rosy flamingo. The American flamingo is a large species of flamingo closely related to the greater flamingo and Chilean flamingo. Along with the greater flamingo, it has the longest legs relative to its body size of all birds. The bill bends characteristically downward, and at the base it is pale yellow, in the middle it is pink to orange, and the tip is black. The young birds are gray in color, their feathers slowly turning pink as they mature.

There is also a small isolated population that inhabits the Galapagos Islands. It is the only flamingo that is native to North America.

It lives in a wide variety of freshwater and saline habitats such as lagoons, estuaries, coastal and inland lakes, and mud flats. Flamingos live, feed and mate in large flocks, which may number thousands of individuals. When mating and interacting with others in the colony, they use highly ritualized displays. Most of the day American flamingos spend feeding. They are shy, and fly away if disturbed. Both adults and juveniles spend most of their time feeding, preening and resting.

Each individual becomes aggressively territorial when foraging for food. If one does come too close, the bird that has been offended will exhibit threatening displays in warning, so that the intruder will leave. A colony establishes distinct areas where the birds can freely interact, the drinking area being one such place. The American flamingo is very nomadic, and travels hundreds of kilometers, depending on the availability of resources.

American flamingos eat insects, worms, algae and vegetation. Flamingos eat in an amusing manner. They position their beaks in the water upside down and suck water into them. They then pump the water out of the sides of their beaks.

Tiny animals and plants remain to provide a tasty meal. American flamingos are monogamous, with strong, long-term pair-bonds. They engage in group courtship displays, thousands of birds turning their heads, bowing their necks or raising their wings in spectacular synchrony.

These displays make sure that the colony members are all ready for mating at the same time. These birds mate after the rainy season, typically in spring or summer. The parents both build the nest. Usually just one egg is laid, and is incubated by both male and female for 27 to 31 days.The flamingo is a unique genus of birds found mostly in the Americas and also in Africa.

The bird of choice today is the American, sometimes referred to as the Caribbean flamingo. These birds are filter feeders and spend most of their day mingling with one another as if at a cocktail party.

American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

They are filter feeders, stirring up the waterbed with their feet and dipping their heads down into the water. Their diets consist mainly of brine shrimp, other crustaceans, and blue-green algae.

The pigments in their diets contribute to their pink color which builds up over the lifespan of a flamingo, which averages 40 years in the wild. A good rule of thumb for telling the age of a flamingo is comparing how pink it is. These are migratory birds and they look for still shallow waters with vegetation to wade through. Both mother and father flamingos keep the eggs warm until the chick is hatched. The parents continue sharing responsibilities such as feeding and protection until the young bird is just over days old.

Remember Me. Create a new account. Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus ruber. Wild Status: Least Concern. Habitat: Nearby lagoons and lakes. Country: Galapagos islands and northern South America. Shelter: Estuary grasses and plants. Life Span: 40 years; up to 60 in captivity.

Cool Facts: There are 6 different species of flamingo. This is the only species of flamingo native to North America. Flamingos are not naturally pink in color. They are born gray and gradually gain a pink hue due to their diet, which mainly consists of brine shrimp and blue-green algae.

Canthaxanthin is the name of the carotenoid that colors their feathers. It is thought that flamingos stand on one leg in order to conserve body heat, though this theory is yet to be proven. Did you know these birds can fly?

They clock in at 37 mph.

american flamingo (phoenicopterus ruber) fact sheet

Flamingos lay eggs atop a mound of mud. This is their nest. These animals hold their breath while feeding. Flamingos have a joint in the center of their leg; you would think that this is their knee but it is actually their ankle joint.

Their knees are up closer to their bodies and hidden by their feathers. Flamingos have acquired tiny hairs on the inside of their upper beaks that aid in filtering for food such as algae and shrimp. These specialized tiny hairs are called "lamellae" and can also be found on the feet of most species of gecko such as the crested gecko.Photos we are missing.

The American Flamingo has a large range of 5, square kilometers, including much of the Caribbean, parts of southern Florida and the Yucatan peninsula, the Galapagos Islands, and coastal areas in northern Venezuela and Colombia. It occurs in shallow, brackish, estuarine waters, builds a nest out of mud, and lays a single egg. The American Flamingo has an estimated breeding population oftoindividuals, and a conservation rating status of Least Concern.

American Flamingo: Tall, unique wading bird, entirely pink except for rear edge of wing and black-tipped bill that is bent at a curious angle. Feeds on algal material, bacteria diatoms, plankton, small fish and brine fly larvae.

American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) Fact Sheet: Bibliography & Resources

Direct flight with rapid wing beats. Flies in straight line formation. Formerly known as Greater Flamingo. North American sightings may be wild individuals or escaped captives. Preferred habitats include saline lagoons, brackish coastal areas, inland lakes, and mudflats. American Flamingo A1. The flamingo family, or Phoenicopteridae pronounced fee-nih-kop-TER-ih-deeis composed of six species in three genera that are distributed in Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas.

This family in North America is represented by just one species and one genus; the American Flamingo. The American Flamingo is most well known for its deep pink plumage, long, lanky appearance and manner of feeding that somewhat resembles a Flamenco dancer quickly stomping their feet. The American Flamingo also has the distinction of having been immortalized in American pop culture by being depicted as a lawn ornament.

Flamingos have a distinctive, unmistakable shape; a short-tailed, rounded body with an incredibly long, slender neck and equally long and slender, knock-kneed legs. Topping the serpentine neck is a head with an odd, boomerang-shaped bill. Reflecting the aquatic nature of this family are the webbed feet. American Flamingos showcase different shades of pink; salmon pink bodies, pale pink to whitish wings with black flight feathers, and pale legs with pink knees and feet.

The bill is pale pink to salmon with a thick, black tip. Juvenile birds are pale gray, the youngest also lacking the distinctive boomerang shape of the bill. The pink color in flamingos is determined by the amount of beta-carotene in their diet. The American Flamingo has for the most part a Caribbean distribution with large colonies in the Bahamas, on Hispaniola, Cuba, and the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. Single vagrant birds occasionally show up in the United States although a small flock has wintered in southern Florida in recent years.

These places provide the specific type of habitat that flamingos need; large, shallow expanses of highly saline water where their main food sources of krill and brine shrimp thrive. Although American Flamingos are not long distance migrants, outside of the breeding season, they will move around in search of choice feeding areas; a behavior that may explain the presence of wild, vagrant flamingos in the United States.

Flamingos are highly social birds rarely found alone.The only flamingo species that naturally appears in North America, the American flamingo is occasionally considered a subspecies of the greater flamingo, and both birds are members of the Phoenicopteridae bird family.

Unmistakable in identification, this is one of the most unique birds in its Caribbean range, and one of the most beloved by birders and non-birders alike. Discover more about these unique wading birds in this informative fact sheet. All flamingos are instantly recognizable with their pink coloration, stilt-like legs, long necks, and large bills.

Because there are different flamingo species that look similar, however, it is important to recognize the distinct field marks that characterize the American flamingo. This is particularly important in areas where flamingos may escape from captivity and could be mistaken for native residents. Genders are similar with overall pink or pinkish-orange plumage with the strongest color on the tail, chest, neck, and head.

The back and underparts may appear paler, even white. Overall color strength can vary significantly depending on the bird's diet, health, and maturity.

Primary and secondary feathers are black but are typically invisible except in flight. Eyes are yellow, and legs and feet are pale or grayish with darker pink joints. The bill is pale whitish or pink with a black tip and a thick, strong downward "break" curve. Juveniles are initially covered with fluffy, gray down, but gradually develop adult coloration as they mature.

Very young birds have smaller, straighter bills and shorter necks. American flamingos do not have a song, but do use a variety of raspy honking calls that can be quite loud and boisterous in large flocks, including while in flight.

The speed and tempo of the calls can change depending on the bird's agitation, and softer, less urgent honks are common while feeding or during courtship. These flamingos are common throughout the Caribbeanespecially in the Bahamas and Cuba, as well as along the Caribbean coast of Mexico, the Yucatan, and in Central America.

Some populations are also found along the northern coast of South America as far as northern Brazil, and there is a population in the Galapagos as well.

American flamingos can be found in large, open, shallow ponds, lakes, lagoons, and mudflats, often with brackish or saline water.

Vagrant sightings are regularly reported along the coasts adjacent to the Caribbean Sea, including in Texas and Florida. Some of those sightings, however, may be birds escaped from captivity rather than wild American flamingos, and therefore would not count on official life lists or species count records.

American flamingos do not typically migratethough they can be nomadic as water levels and food sources change.

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Otherwise, the birds stay in the same range and appropriate habitats rather predictably. These birds are relatively shy toward humans, but are gregarious and will gather in medium or large flocks.

They are strong but rare swimmers, and are far more frequently seen wading or standing rather than swimming. While at rest, they hold their necks in a relaxed S-shape and may balance on one leg, switching legs occasionally. In flight, their long legs stretch behind their bodies while their necks are stretched straight out front, giving them a distinct airborne profile.Posted by BioExpedition May 15, Flamingos.

The only flamingo that is known to inhabit parts of North America is the American flamingoa beautiful and graceful creature that has been depicted in many forms, pictorially and in statuary. They are the most commonly depicted flamingos, and have been a mainstay in popular culture here in America for centuries.

The American flamingo is a deeper pink in coloration than most other species of flamingo, largely due to its increased diet of beta-Carotene rich substances. While they are the largest flamingos found in America, they are slightly smaller than the great flamingos. Standing at about forty-seven inches, they are tall enough to stand above the surface of the waters in which they hunt. Before they were called the American flamingo as a universal namesake, they were commonly known as the Rosy flamingo, because of the rich and deeper pink colorations around the plume and feathers.

The beaks are black at the tips moving toward a white coloration near the face. Under the wings remains white even into maturity, as well as under the tail feathers. The beak of the American flamingo is scooped strongly to aid in the deeper feeding process.

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Their legs are a lighter pink than the rest of the body, but the beta-Carotene coloration is still evident even there. American Flamingo — Phoenicopterus ruber. While their namesake suggests that the American flamingos are present in the Americas, they are much more common in the Caribbean and islands surrounding the Southern Americas.

While some can be seen in the Florida areas, these are largely considered escapees from zoos or those lost in huge migratory flocks. They most commonly inhabit lagoons, lakes, and mudflats, that while deeper than most areas, are still pretty shallow water sources. They are highly migratory birds that can travel hundred of miles across international bounds, and can travel in flocks of thousand flamingos.

The exact migratory patterns are mostly unknown, but it is speculated that they need to stay in fairly warm climates, as they tend to move during the colder months.

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The most common migratory paths seem to be due to breeding season. They may even follow short paths to follow the all-important food, taking trips of one-hundred miles to move to take over a new location that is richer in shrimp and plankton. They do not seem to have singular breeding and mating locations.

The American flamingo is a fairly social creature that will travel in huge flocks during migratory seasons. These flamingos can be extremely territorial when choosing an area to feed, and will sometimes even fight aggressively over feeding grounds.

Before this event occurs, a complex ritual of determining who is the biggest, by expanding plumes and wings to make them seem larger, and determine which is the strongest. Like most of the other flamingo species, the American flamingo will mate for life, mated pairs usually lasting until one of the pair dies, then some will pine until the other member of the pair dies.

Because of the long necks, and the fatigue associated with holding up such a long and slender neck, the American flamingo will lay its head on the body when sleeping.

The American flamingos eating habits are probably the birds most interesting characteristic. They use their large feet to stir the sediments at the bottom of their chosen water source. They then use their beaks to scoop up the stirred sediment and plankton, using their filtered beaks to choose the food they need and separate it from water and the stirred up dust and rocks.

Their diets are not very selective, and many different things have been found in the stomachs of dead American flamingos. Anything from bacteria, plankton, underwater plants, vertebrate and invertebrate animal life, and even mollusks and fish have been found in their stomachs.

Their coloration comes from their dietary choices, and flamingos kept in captivity are not likely to have the same colors as birds in the wild. Their tongues are also an important mechanism for filtering the foods that they commonly eat, and is used to pump unused sediment and water from their mouths. The flamingo actually feeds with its head upside down, when underwater, an unparalleled evolutionary achievement. The bottom of the beak is much more useful than the top of it.

The American flamingo is a monogamous creature, meaning the bird chooses one mate during its lifetime, and sticks with it until death.

The mating process is complex ritual, involving a dance like maneuver that includes lots of wing flapping and noise making. Mating occurs as a colony, no one bird simply choosing it is time to mate.Learn more about these drawings. Read more. On the island of Great Inagua, the flashy birds have made a huge comeback.

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Two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. U rge Congress to act now. Until aboutflocks of flamingos from the Bahamas regularly migrated to Florida Bay, in what is now Everglades National Park.

Today, most flamingos seen on the loose in North America are considered suspect, as possible escapees from aviaries or zoos. However, some of those appearing in Florida Bay may still be wanderers from Bahamian colonies, and some seen in coastal Texas may come from colonies on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

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american flamingo (phoenicopterus ruber) fact sheet

Many birds with unusual beaks aren't born with them. Explore Similar Birds. The Bird Guide Adopt a Bird. These birds need your help. Protect Birds from Climate Change Two-thirds of North American bird species are at risk of extinction from climate change. Take Action. Get Audubon in Your Inbox Let us send you the latest in bird and conservation news. Find Audubon Near You Visit your local Audubon center, join a chapter, or help save birds with your state program.

Explore the Network. Spread the word.Flamingos are wading birds that are easily recognized by their long, stilt-like legs and rosy color.

The name "flamingo" comes from the Portuguese and Spanish word flamengowhich means "flame-colored. Flamingos belong to the genus Phoenicopterus and are the only members of the family Phoenicopteridae. There are six flamingo species. Flamingos have long legs, large curved bills, and plumage in shades ranging from white or gray to pink or orange.

Members of some species may have black bills and some black feathers. The greater flamingo is the largest bird, ranging from 3. The lesser flamingo is the smallest bird, with a height of 2. Flamingos prefer shallow aquatic habitats, including tidal flats, lagoons, lakes, swamps, and islands. The greater flamingo occurs along the coasts of Africa, southern Europe, and southwestern Asia.

The Chilean flamingo is found in temperate parts of South America. Flamingos are omnivores that feed on blue-green algaebrine shrimp, insect, crustaceansand mollusks.

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They stir up mud with their feet and dip their bills upside-down in the water to filter food. The pigment molecules in their food carotenoids give flamingos their pink to reddish color. Flamingos that feed primarily on blue-green algae are darker than those that get the pigment second-hand from crustaceans. Flamingos that don't get carotenoids from their diet may be perfectly healthy, but are gray or white.

Flamingos are social birds that live in colonies. Colony life helps the birds establish nesting sites, avoid predators, and find food efficiently.

The birds commonly stand on one leg and tuck the other leg beneath their bodies.

American flamingo

The reason for this behavior is unclear, but it may help the birds conserve body heat or energy required for standing long periods of time. Flamingos are excellent fliers. Captive birds have their wings clipped to prevent escape.

Flamingos are largely monogamous and lay a single egg each year. Both males and females perform ritual courtship displays, sometimes resulting in same-sex pairs. A mating pair builds a nest together and shares incubation duties about a month until the chick hatches. Newborn chicks are fluffy and gray, with black feet and straight black beaks. Both parents produce pink crop milk to feed the chick. As the chick grows, the parents regurgitate food to feed their offspring.

The chick turns pink within the first year or two and its beak curves as it matures. Wild flamingos live 20 to 30 years, but captive birds can live much longer.

american flamingo (phoenicopterus ruber) fact sheet

One captive greater flamingo named "Greater" lived at least 83 years. IUCN conservation status for flamingos ranges from "vulnerable" to "least concern.


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