The American flamingo is found in coastal areas of the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Cuba, and the Yucatan peninsula. This species is also found throughout the southern United States, the Middle East, Africa, and northern South America.
Saline lakes, coastal lagoons and other shallow salt water areas.
- American flamingos are up to five feet tall (1.5 m).
- They weigh five to six pounds (2.3-2.7 kg). Females are about 20% smaller than males.
- They have a wingspan of up to five feet (1.5 m).
- Their feathers are a deep pinkish red with contrasting black on the outer edges of the wings.
- Their distinctive bill is curves downward, and is beige at the base, pink in the middle and black at
- the tip.
- They have a large body, long pink legs with webbed feet, long necks and small heads.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: Crustaceans, mollusks, insects, algae and diatoms containing carotenoid pigments.
At the zoo: Bird of prey diet, fish, soaked avian chow and flamingo pellets containing carotenoid pigments to maintain their bright pink feather color.
What Eats It?
A variety of predators such as birds of prey and gulls may prey on flamingos or their eggs.
Flamingos are highly gregarious birds living in large flocks that may number in the thousands. The birds participate in ritualized group displays that help synchronize breeding within the colony. They nest in colonies and the young are reared in group “nurseries” after they leave the nest. Thousands of birds migrate together to breeding sites.
Within the colony, breeding is stimulated by elaborate group displays, which ensure synchronized egg laying, hatching and chick rearing. Courtship displays involve complex, synchronized dances that include neck stretching, wing spreading and neck twists along with ritualized preening and loud honking. Flamingos appear to be monogamous with pair bonding that sometimes continues to the next breeding cycle. Breeding pairs leave the group to build a nest consisting of mud formed into a cone about 12 inches high with a small depression in the center. The height of the nest keeps the eggs and chicks above any floodwaters and out of the reach of most predators. The female lays a single white egg in the nest, and both male and female incubate the egg, which hatches after 27-31 days. The chick is covered with gray downy feathers and has a straight bill. For five to 12 days the chick stays in the nest and is fed “crop milk” by both parents. When the chick leaves the nest it is able to walk and swim, at which point the young chicks join nurseries tended by a few adults while other adults go off to feed. Parents recognize their own chick by calls and will feed only their own offspring. The chick is fed crop milk until it is able to filter feed on its own at four to six weeks. American flamingo chicks fledge at nine to 13 weeks and are not sexually mature until three to six years of age. Lifespan of flamingos is up to 50 years.