A flamingo is a tall pink wading bird graced with a long S-shaped neck and long stilt-like slender legs. The colorful pink feathered bird is native to France and has a short tail and webbed feet that allow them to run on water and gain speed before flying up in the air.
In your biology lessons, you may have learned that the medium-sized bird has a small head, orange eyes, and large, colorful wings. The end of their long beak is black, while the rest is pink or red. A flamingo’s beak curves downwards and has small nostrils at the beak’s top part. The plumage tinge of an adult flamingo ranges from light pink to bright red.
Top 5 Compelling Facts About Flamingos
There are six species of flamingos. These include the Greater flamingo, the Lesser flamingo, Chilean flamingo, James’s flamingo, Andean flamingo, and American flamingo.
The legs and feet may be yellow-to-orange or pink-red, depending on the species. The Andean flamingo is the only species known to have yellow legs.
Let’s discover the top 5 hilarious facts about this colorful wading bird.
Flamingos Do Fly
Flamingos are famous as wading creatures, but they do fly as well. They are well adapted with webbed feet that help them run on the mud before lifting off into the air and when it lands. Just like airplanes, the flamingo will start by running for multiple steps. This helps it gain speed while flapping its large wings.
Flamingos will mostly fly in flocks, and their speed can reach up to 37 miles per hour. When landing on the ground, the flamingo will also run for several steps to encounter the speed and energy that stops them from tumbling over.
Flamingos Are Strong Swimmers
Surprisingly, even with their outrageous body appearance, flamingos are strong swimmers. Like flying, flamingos will only swim when their long feet cannot touch the bottom anymore. Their top choice is wading over swimming. However, they will swim when they need to change the location for a short distance.
One of flamingos’ epic and strange moments is when these birds immerse their heads underwater and tail up to swim. They only do so when foraging for food from deeper waters their feet cannot reach. Thumbs up to their well-adapted webbed feet that perfectly peddle in the water while swimming.
Did you know flamingo chicks can swim remarkably within a few days after hatching? They naturally float and swim without taking any special training. To their benefit, swimming helps strengthen their feet.
Flamingos’ Feathers Are Water Repellent
Flamingos can float on water due to their water-repellent feathers. They have preen glands at the back near the tail that secretes oil. This oil naturally flows on their feathers, enabling them not to get wet and sink.
Flamingos have high buoyancy, as most of their body is covered by feathers that keep them lightweight. They naturally float even when swimming.
Flamingos Have Fixed Lower Jaw
Unlike other birds and mammals, the flamingo’s lower jaw is fixed, and only its upper jaw moves. This filter feeder sieves any impurities, mud, or silt using their tongue muscles. Its beak is lined with a row of tiny bristles that allow nutrients like molluscs and worms to remain in their mouth while feeding.
Flamingos also have a poor sense of taste. For this reason, their tongue has tiny tactile organs to help them with what gets into their stomach. Did you know the bright pigmentation of the flamingo is due to the beta-carotene, an organic pigment they obtain from the crustaceans they feed on? Interesting huh!
Flamingo Chicks Feed On Crop Milk
Like pigeons, flamingos feed their young ones with crop milk produced by both parents. This milk is processed in the upper digestive tract and is rich in proteins, fats, and red and white blood cells.
Both parents regurgitate and feed their chick with milk that has similar nutritional value to that of mammal’s milk.
Flamingos are beautiful birds that attract attention with their hot pink tinge. They love staying in huge groups and will flock together when danger arises. These birds live for many decades as they are well adapted to survive in their environment.