Flamingo Facts and Food

Flamingos can be identified by their large necks, slender legs, and their reddish or pink-colored feathers. Flamingos are a perfect embodiment of the saying “you’re what you eat.” Flamingo feathers are pinkish as well as reddish due to their consumption of pigments from algae and other invertebrates.

Based on the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, (ITIS), there are six kinds of flamingos. They are: Chilean flamingo (greater flamingo), Andean flamingo (lesser flamingo), Chilean flamingo (andean flamingo), James’ (or puna) Flamingo, James’ and American the flamingo (or Caribbean).


The greater flamingo is by far the tallest species. It can be 3.9 feet up to 4.7 feet (1.25 to 1.45 meters) tall and can weigh up to 7.7 pounds. (3.5 kilograms) according to Sea World. The lesser flamingo is one with the smallest size, measuring 2.6 feet (80cm) and weighs 5.5 pounds. (2.5 kg). Flamingos have a wingspan of 37 inches (95cm) and 59 inches (150cm).


American flamingos reside in the West Indies, Yucatan, in the northern region of South America and along the Galapagos Islands. Chilean, Andean, and James’ flamingos are found throughout South America. The greater and lesser flamingos, however, are found in Africa. Greater flamingos can be located in the Middle East and India.


Flamingos feed on larva small insects, blue-green and red algae including mollusks and crustaceans, as well as small fish, as per Sea World. Their tendency to eat both vegetation and meat is what makes them an omnivore.

Flamingos appear pink due to the fact that the algae they eat contain beta carotene. It is an organic chemical that has a reddish-orange pigment. (Beta carotene can be found in many plants, but is most prominently found in spinach, tomatoes, sweet potato, pumpkins and, of course, carrots.) The mollusks and crustaceans that flamingos snack on contain similar pigment-packing carotenoids.

The levels of carotenoid in their food may differ across the globe. This is why American flamingos tend to be bright red and orange while the less flamingos from central Kenya’s drought-stricken Lake Nakuru are paler pink.

If a flamingo stops eating carotenoids-rich food the feathers of its mates will start to develop a paler shade and eventually the feathers that are reddish are likely to molt. Molted feathers are no longer pinkish-colored as they had previously.

What a flamingo consumes is contingent on what type of beak it has. The smaller, James’ and Andean Flamingos are known as having a deep-keeled bill. They are mostly consumed by algae. The larger, Chilean and American flamingos have bill with a shallow keeled, which permit them to eat insects, invertebrates, and small fish.

For food, flamingos shake into the bottom of the lake with their feet , and then duck their beaks into the mud and water to catch their food.



Colonies, also known as flocks, are groups of Flamingos. The colony works together to protect each other from predators and to look after the young.

The theory is that flamingos are monogamous, according to Sea World. Once they mate, they tend to stay with that mate. Flamingos in groups can mate simultaneously so all the chicks will hatch together. The pair will build nests of mounds of mud and females will lay only one egg at a time, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.

The egg inside is larger than a chicken egg. It measures 3 to 3.5 inches (78 to 90 millimeters) in length and 4 to 4.9 ounces (115 to 140 grams). It will take between 27 and 31 days for the egg to hatch. The chick that will emerge will be 2.5 to 3.0 ounces (73-90 g) in weight. The chicks mature in between the ages of three and five years of age.

Baby flamingos can be either white or gray. Within the first few years of their lives, they’ll turn pink. Flamingos are able to live between 20 and 30 years in the wild or up to 50 years in the zoo.

Other facts

Sea World says fossil evidence indicates that flamingos came from a group that existed at least 30 million years ago. This was before other avian species evolved.

Although it’s not clear why flamingos choose to sit on one foot and not stand on their feet, it has been suggested they do it in order to save heat. They also consider it to be the most comfortable position to lay in.

Although flamingos are believed by many to be tropical birds, they can still live and thrive in cold areas as long as there’s plenty of food and water.

In East Africa, more than 1 million flamingos are reported to be a part of a flock, forming the largest flock ever observed,

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