Fun Facts About Flamingos. 13 amazing things about flamingos. Diet, Flying & more.

Flamingos are a familiar bird even to those who have never seen them in real life or had any vested interest in birds. Their long curvy necks, long legs and pink colour make flamingos a spectacle to enjoy.

flamingo mates

Whether you see the big colony of Flamingos in the shallow waters trying to get food, or you see them in flight, they are spectacular animals.

In this article, we shall take a look at some facts that make flamingos even more interesting than they look.

Fascinating Facts About Flamingos

1. How Many Flamingo Species exist

There are 6 living species of flamingos that live in the various parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

# Flamingo Species Habitat Range
1.  Greater Flamingo Parts of Africa, Southern Europe, Southern & Southwestern Asia
2. Lesser Flamingo Africa, Northwest India
3.  Chilean Flamingo Temperate South South America 
4. James's Flamingo The high Andes in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina
5. Andean Flamingo The high Andes in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina
6. American Flamingo Caribbean Islands, Caribbean Mexico, S. Florida, Coastal Colombia, N Brazil, Venezuela, Galapagos Islands

The Greater Flamingo is the most widespread of all flamingo species whereas the lesser flamingo is the most populous in numbers.

2. Where does the name Flamingo come from?

The name Flamingo comes from the Portuguese or Spanish word Falameng which translates to "Flame Colored".

3. Why are Flamingos Pink in Color?

flamingo migration

The pink colour of flamingos is a result of the beta-carotone found in the crustaceans and plankton that flamingos eat for food.

Flamingos at the zoo can turn white in colour if their diet is deprived of beta-carotone foods or supplements.

4. How big are Flamingos

Greater flamingos

Flamingos are tall birds that are also very light in weight. Adult Flamingos can be as tall as  1.5 metres (5 ft) in height and weigh between 2 and 4 kilograms (4 to 8 lbs). The body density is ideal for flying.

5. Why Do Flamingos Stand on one leg.

flamingo on one leg

It is not fully known why flamingos usually stand on one leg. Some theories suggest that standing on one leg allows flamingos to conserve more body heat.

Other theories suggest that it is a way of conserving their energy since they can stand steady on one leg without any physical effort. The real reason why flamingos love standing on one foot is unclear.

6. Do Flamingos produce Milk?

As birds, flamingos do not have mammary glands thus do not produce milk in the traditional way.

Flamingos produce 'crop milk' from their upper digestive tracts, and this concoction is rich in proteins, fat as well as red and white blood cells. Both male and female flamingos can produce crop milk.

7. How do Flamingos eat?

flamingos eating upside down

Flamingos eat upside down because their beaks are specially curved to filter food from the mud and water.

Their beaks and tongues are lined with a hair-like structure (lamellae) that helps in filtering out the mud from the food. Flamingos, therefore have no teeth.

8. What do Flamingos eat?

Flamingos are omnivores that mainly feed on shrimp and Blue-green algae. They also eat insect larvae, small insects, molluscs and crustaceans.

9. Where do Flamingos Live?

Flamingos often live in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. The shallow salt water is ideal for the growth of algae and other insects and crustaceans that flamingos feed on.

Flamingos can be found in North America, South America, The Caribean, Africa, Asia and Southern Europe.

Flamingos geographical range

10. Are Flamingos Social?

Flamingos are very social birds that live in large colonies of hundreds and sometimes thousands of individuals. The colonies play a crucial role in avoiding predators.

Flamingos split into smaller groups of 15 to 50 for breeding, and both the males and females perform ritual displays as a way of attracting mates.

11. How fast can flamingos fly?

flamingos in nakuru kenya

The flamingo's lightweight and elongated proportions are advantageous for flying. A Flamingo is able to fly at great heights of more than 15,000 feet in the air.

Flamingos can flight at speed of 50-60 kilometres per hour and distances of up to 600 kilometres. While colonies of Flamingos are often found in shallow waters feeding algae and plankton, they are very capable of flying.

12. Do Flamingos live long?

Flamingos live for a very long time and can live upwards of 50 years. An 83-year-old greater flamingo at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia died in 2014.

The typical lifespan in captivity is around 60 years and the average lifespan of a flamingo in the wild is between 30 and 40 years. 

momella lake in Arusha np

13. Are Flamingos Endagered?

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Flamingos are not under any imminent threat of extinction. They are regarded as Least Concern, which means that their numbers and distribution are stable.

As with most other wild species, Flamingos also face the threat of human activity that keeps shrinking their habitat. Water pollution also kills the marine ecosystem which they rely on for food.

Final Thoughts

Every time we learn more about an animal, there is always something that surprises us. It is the uniqueness of each and every animal that makes up the beauty of the ecosystem and environment they live in.

Flamingos are very unique birds that can live as long as elephants and yet are essentially weightless.

Whether you see flamingos at a zoo or in the wild, the sight is spectacular. We hope you enjoyed learning about flamingos and you will get to see them soon.

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