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American Flamingo by Steve Murdock

Flamingo, American

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Description

The largest and most wide spread of the flamingo species, Phoenicopterus ruber is 120-145 cm tall (about 53 inches), 2100-4100 g (7 pounds) in weight, with a wingspan of 140-165 cm (about 60 inches). Females are about 20% smaller than males, with shorter legs. Legs are pink, and beaks are pink with a black tip.  Juveniles are grey-brown, with some pink undertones.

Some authorities consider Phoenicopterus ruber and the African greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) to be subspecies inhabiting different geographic regions. Others consider them to be two distinct species within the genus.

The African greater flamingo (roseus) is a pale pink, with more orangey-pink wing feathers and black coverts. In contrast, the American or Caribbean (ruber) is a darker, more vivid pink color.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Phoenicopteriformes
Family
Phoenicopteridae
Genus
Phoenicopterus
Species
P. ruber
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
120-145 cm (about 53 inches)
Weight
4100 g (7 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Phoenicopterus ruber as a species of Least Concern. The current population numbers between 260,000-330,000 mature individuals and climbing.

Social Life
Flamingos are extremely social, and are found in very large flocks, called a “flamboyance.” They unison march and engage in a head wagging behavior called “flagging,” as well as vocalizing, bowing, and wing flapping. They are partially migratory, and can fly 500 to 600 km (about 350 miles) during the night.  In more temperate areas they are dispersive, usually after breeding.

Habitat and Range
Phoenicopterus ruber inhabits saline lagoons and salt pans and large shallow alkaline or saline lakes in coastal areas of the Caribbean, central, and South America. They can be found in parts of Florida and other southern states though to a much lesser extent.

Diet
American flamingos are filter feeders, eating algae, small crustaceans, mollusks, insects, small fish, and the seeds of some plants, usually with the flamingo’s head and neck completely under water. They also tread in the mud to stir up more food and consume mud for the bacteria and minerals it contains.

Lifespan
In the wild about 33 years; in captivity up to 60 years.

Predators
Flamingos live in areas without many food sources for predators, so have very few. Young are susceptible to attack by large birds, such as vultures or storks.

Reproduction
Sexual Maturity: 5-6 years, although can be as early as 3 or 4.
Mating Season: In the spring, from March to May. Flamingos nest on mud flats or rocky islands. Nests are truncated cones made of mud, with a shallow bowl in the top to cradle the egg. If there is no mud, they create a nest from small rocks and debris.  Flamingos pair bond for one season.
Incubation: Females lay one eggs, which both parents incubate for 27-31 days. When they hatch the babies are a grey color, with plush-like down feathers. Fledging is between 65-90 days.
No. of Young: 1

Information

Description

The largest and most wide spread of the flamingo species, Phoenicopterus ruber is 120-145 cm tall (about 53 inches), 2100-4100 g (7 pounds) in weight, with a wingspan of 140-165 cm (about 60 inches). Females are about 20% smaller than males, with shorter legs. Legs are pink, and beaks are pink with a black tip.  Juveniles are grey-brown, with some pink undertones.

Some authorities consider Phoenicopterus ruber and the African greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) to be subspecies inhabiting different geographic regions. Others consider them to be two distinct species within the genus.

The African greater flamingo (roseus) is a pale pink, with more orangey-pink wing feathers and black coverts. In contrast, the American or Caribbean (ruber) is a darker, more vivid pink color.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Phoenicopteriformes
Family
Phoenicopteridae
Genus
Phoenicopterus
Species
P. ruber
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
120-145 cm (about 53 inches)
Weight
4100 g (7 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Phoenicopterus ruber as a species of Least Concern. The current population numbers between 260,000-330,000 mature individuals and climbing.

Social Life
Flamingos are extremely social, and are found in very large flocks, called a “flamboyance.” They unison march and engage in a head wagging behavior called “flagging,” as well as vocalizing, bowing, and wing flapping. They are partially migratory, and can fly 500 to 600 km (about 350 miles) during the night.  In more temperate areas they are dispersive, usually after breeding.

Habitat and Range
Phoenicopterus ruber inhabits saline lagoons and salt pans and large shallow alkaline or saline lakes in coastal areas of the Caribbean, central, and South America. They can be found in parts of Florida and other southern states though to a much lesser extent.

Diet
American flamingos are filter feeders, eating algae, small crustaceans, mollusks, insects, small fish, and the seeds of some plants, usually with the flamingo’s head and neck completely under water. They also tread in the mud to stir up more food and consume mud for the bacteria and minerals it contains.

Lifespan
In the wild about 33 years; in captivity up to 60 years.

Predators
Flamingos live in areas without many food sources for predators, so have very few. Young are susceptible to attack by large birds, such as vultures or storks.

Reproduction
Sexual Maturity: 5-6 years, although can be as early as 3 or 4.
Mating Season: In the spring, from March to May. Flamingos nest on mud flats or rocky islands. Nests are truncated cones made of mud, with a shallow bowl in the top to cradle the egg. If there is no mud, they create a nest from small rocks and debris.  Flamingos pair bond for one season.
Incubation: Females lay one eggs, which both parents incubate for 27-31 days. When they hatch the babies are a grey color, with plush-like down feathers. Fledging is between 65-90 days.
No. of Young: 1