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Encyclopedia > Flamingos
For the seminal American doo-wop group, best known for "I Only Have Eyes for You" (1959), see The Flamingos.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Phoenicopteridae
Genus: Phoenicopterus

Phoenicopterus roseus
Phoenicopterus minor
Phoenicopterus jamesi
Phoenicopterus andinus
Phoenicopterus chilensis
Phoenicopterus ruber

Flamingos sleeping.

Flamingos (genus Phoenicopterus monotypic in family Phoenicopteridae) are gregarious wading birds, usually 3–5 feet in height, found in both the western and eastern hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter, but there are four species in the Americas against two in the Old World. Flamingos live in large flocks in aquatic areas.

The larger species breed and feed in saline or brackish habitats. Nests are made of compacted mud and are in the form of a mound with a concave top, into which the single white egg is laid.

Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. The filtering of food items is assisted by hairy structures called lamellae which line the mandibles, and the large rough-surfaced tongue.

The young hatch with white plumage, but the feathers of a flamingo in adulthood range from light pink to bright red, due to carotenoids obtained from their food supply. All flamingos have 12 black flight feathers in each wing.

Flamingos produce a “milk” like pigeon milk (see Columbidae). It contains more fat and less protein than the latter does, and it is produced in glands lining the whole of the upper digestive tract, not just the crop. Young flamingos feed on this milk for about two months until their bills are developed enough to filter feed. The milk also contains red and white blood cells.


Flamingos are communal birds and are usually found in large flocks.

Flamingos are related to other large wading birds as follows:

Popular culture

Flamingos are a model for plastic yard art which is apparently popular in some areas of the USA.

Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo is an amusement park in the UK.

External links

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  Results from FactBites:
Flamingo - MSN Encarta (456 words)
The greater flamingo breeds in standing water or on low islands in shallow ponds, salt pans, and lagoons, building a conical mound of mud topped by a slight depression in which the one egg (rarely two) is laid.
The greater flamingo is classified as Phoenicopterus ruber, its vivid red subspecies as Phoenicopterus ruber ruber, and its paler subspecies as Phoenicopterus ruber roseus.
The Chilean flamingo is classified as Phoenicopterus chilensis, the Andean flamingo as Phoenicopterus andinus, James's flamingo as Phoenicopterus jamesi, and the lesser flamingo as Phoenicopterus minor.
Flamingo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1237 words)
Flamingos are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus and family Phoenicopteridae.
An extinct family of peculiar "swimming flamingos", the Palaelodidae, was initially believed to be the ancestors of the Phoenicopteridae.
Notable exceptions are the flamingos in captivity, many of which turned a pale pink as they are not fed foods containing sufficient amounts of carotene.
  More results at FactBites »



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