Flamingos are known for being pink. To wrap up our first-ever Flamingo Week, we're sharing a couple of fun coloring pages featuring these iconic birds. Have fun coloring in these cartoon birds with different shades: carnation; blush; mauvelous; primrose; salmon; coral; fuschia; or roseate.
Flamingo Week continues today with some interesting flamingo extremes and odd facts about this family of pink birds.
Extremely Social Birds
Flamingos live in colonies that may number thousands of individuals. Breeding is also colonial, with birds typically separating into smaller groups of 7-25 pairs. Breeding follows synchronized dancing displays whicih are performed by both male and female birds.
The range of the James's, Chilean, and Andean Flamingo overlap in some areas. These social birds of different species will live in colonies together and even share nesting sites.
Popular In Plastic
In the United States, plastic pink flamingos are a famous kitschy lawn ornament. The decorations were first designed for the U.S. market in 1957. While some homeowners associations ban the plastic pinkies, the city of Madison, Wisconsin designated the plastic flamingo as the city's official bird in 2009.
Unique Feeding Adaptations
Flamingos are omnivores. They filter-feed on brine shrimp, blue-green algea, small insects, mollusks, and other small aquatic animals. Flamingo bills have a unique shape designed to filter feed, separating mud and silt from their food. The bill is used to filter in an upside-down position.
Another special filtering anatomical adaptation flamingos have is lamellae, hairy structures that line their beaks and tongues. Their long legs allow them to stand in water of varying depths, and their webbed feet are used to stir up silt in their search for food items.
Both male and female parent flamingos feed their young chicks a sort of crop "milk", a fat and protein-rich substance produced in upper digestive tract glands and expelled through the beak. This milk is not actually pink. It is similar to the pigeon milk fed to squabs by parent birds in the pigeon and dove family.
A Greater Flamingo resident at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia was believed to be at least 83 years old at the time of its death in 2014. That is considerably older than the known longevity record for a wild Greater Flamingo, which was at least 27 years and 6 months, recorded via a rediscovered living banded bird in France.
The longevity record for a wild American Flamingo is just over 13 years, determined via a banding program.
The Most Endangered Flamingo
The Andean Flamingo is considered to be Vulnerable to Extinction. A rapid population decline occured during the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, reducing the global number of wild birds to less than 35,000. Today the population is considered to be stable.
The Most Abundant Flamingo
The Lesser Flamingo is the most abundant species of flamingo, yet it is considered to be Near Threatened due to threats including breeding site degredation.
While all flamingos are considered to be relatively tall birds, the tallest of the bunch is the aptly named Greater Flamingo, reaching the greatest height at up to 59 inches tall (approximately 150 cm). The smallest is the also aptly named Lesser Flamingo, which may reach only 25 to 35 inches in height (approximately 63 to 89 cm).
If you think our Birdorable birds are cute as adults, what about when they are babies? Below are some baby photos (shared via Flickr Creative Commons) of the American Flamingo and Greater Flamingo.
The six species of flamingo have similar nesting habits. They all breed in colonies. Mating rituals involve synchronized dancing. The nest is a pillar or mound of mud. A single chalky-white egg is laid per nesting attempt. Chicks, grey when first hatched, are fed a protein- and fat-rich diet of crop milk by both parents. Baby flamingos leave the nest around 7-12 days after hatching. Young birds gather in a group, called a creche, to evade predation as they grow.
Flamingos do well in captivity and breed if colony conditions are favorable, which include number of birds of breeding age and ratio of males to females. All of the example baby flamingo photos shared below were taken in zoological parks.
Because of their large size and flashy colors, flamingos capture the imagination of bird lovers and wildlife observers. And because some of the species in this family are facing threats to their survival, flamingos are often featured in the news. Here are some stories featuring these big pink beauties in the past few months.
WISTV – September 13, 2018 A zoo in the path of Hurricane Florence prepares for the coming storm by moving flamingos to indoor enclosures for safety. See video of the pink birds as they get ready to hunker down at the Columbia, South Carolina zoo.
The New York Times – August 11, 2018 For the first time in 15 years, Andean Flamingos are breeding in a wildlife reserve in Britain. Read about the work the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is Slimbridge is doing to help endangered species of flamingo.
Audubon.org – Spring 2018 Read about the comeback of the American Flamingo in the Bahamas, in part thanks to the preservation of habitat in Great Inagua National Park. This article includes some fabulous photographs of the species in wild habitats.
Finally, Flamboyance made its debut a few months ago. This shirt features all of the flamingo species in the world in a mixed flock. The collective noun for flamingo is -- you guessed it -- Flamboyance.
Also available on Amazon
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We're celebrating flamingos this week! Let's learn about these pink beauties -- here are some frequently asked questions about flamingos.
Why do flamingos stand on one leg? The true reason that flamingos often stand one leg has long been debated. One popular theory is that a bird can conserve body temperature by tucking one leg into its feathers while standing in water, which may pull heat away from the body. Another theory has to do with the fact that flamingos are able to "shut down" half of their brain so they can both rest and remain vigilant for predators at the same time. The tucked-in leg is a kind of natural reaction to this state of partial sleep.
Why are flamingos pink? Flamingos hatch out of the egg grey, not pink. As they grow, they develop a pink plumage which is the result of natural pink pigments found in the food they eat. The pink or reddish plumage comes from carotenoids in the diet of both animals and plant plankton. The brightness of a bird's plumage relates to diet and the ratio of algae (darker/more pink plumage) consumed compared to small animals (more pale plumage).
Where do flamingos live? Of the six flamingo species, 4 live in the New World and 2 are found in the Old World.
The American Flamingo is the only species naturally occurring in North America. They are mostly found in the Caribbean, Central America, and along the northeastern coast of South America. There is a population on the Galapagos as well.
Chilean Flamigos are found along the western side of much of South America. Andean and James's Flamingos have a smaller range near the western coast along the Andes mountains.
Of the Old World flamingos, the Lesser is found in coastal and wetland habitats across sub-Saharan Africa, with a separate population in western India. The Greater Flamingo is found around sub-Saharan Africa as well as in coastal habitats in parts of the Middle East, southwestern Asia, and southern Europe.
What is the meaning of the name "flamingo"? The word flamingo is derived from the Portuguese flamengo or the Spanish flamenco, which means "flame-colored". The origin of the word comes from the old idea that Flemish people had a ruddy or reddish complexion.
Do flamingos migrate? Most flamingo species will migrate short distances during the year depending on availability of food and conditions of feeding grounds. Flooded habitat may be too deep for feeding; drought conditions may cause flamingos to move to a more favorable location for a season or longer.
How can you tell the different flamingo species apart? Flamingos all have the same general body shape, unique beak formation, long legs, and pink or pinkish plumage. How can you tell them apart? Pay attention to their size, and the color of the bill and the legs. Here are some simple tips.