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A photo of a American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)
American Flamingo

American Flamingo

Phoenicopterus ruber

The American flamingo, known scientifically as Phoenicopterus ruber, is a strikingly vibrant wading bird with a profusion of reddish-pink plumage. This species, the only flamingo naturally inhabiting North America, is recognized by its long, lean stature, standing 120 to 145 cm tall. The males, slightly heavier, average 2.8 kg, while females tip the scales at around 2.2 kg. The bird's plumage transitions from a paler hue during youth to the iconic pink of adults, a result of their specialized diet. The wings are adorned with red coverts and contrasting black flight feathers, while the bill is a mosaic of pink, white, and a pronounced black tip. Completing the portrait are the entirely pink legs, a feature that adds to the bird's elegance.

Identification Tips

When identifying the American flamingo, look for the following key characteristics: a large bird with predominantly pink plumage, red wing coverts, black primary and secondary flight feathers, and a distinctive bill that is pink and white with a black tip. The legs are also pink, and the bird's overall stature is tall and slender. The call of the American flamingo is a resonant, goose-like honking.

Habitat

The American flamingo favors saline lagoons, mudflats, and shallow brackish coastal or inland lakes. These environments provide the ideal conditions for the flamingo's feeding and breeding habits.

Distribution

This species is native to the West Indies, northern South America, including the Galápagos Islands, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Historically, it was also found in southern Florida, where it is now an uncommon visitor with potential small resident populations.

Behaviour

Flamingos are social birds, often seen in large flocks. They are known for their synchronized movements during courtship and their communal approach to nesting and raising young. These birds are also known for their one-legged stance, which is thought to play a role in thermoregulation.

Song & Calls

The American flamingo's vocalizations are reminiscent of a goose's honk, a loud and penetrating sound that can carry over long distances.

Breeding

Breeding pairs are usually monogamous, engaging in elaborate courtship displays that involve synchronized movements. They lay a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound, with both parents sharing incubation duties. Chicks are brooded by alternating parents and may join crèches after leaving the nest.

Similar Species

The American flamingo can be confused with the greater flamingo due to similar coloration, but the American species is smaller on average and has a different bill shape. It can also be mistaken for the roseate spoonbill; however, the spoonbill is generally smaller with a shorter neck and a spoon-shaped bill.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the American flamingo consists of small crustaceans, mollusks, worms, nematodes, insects and their larvae, small fish, widgeon grass, seeds, and algae. They feed by stirring up the mud with their feet and filtering food through their specialized beaks.

Conservation status

The American flamingo is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it does not face immediate threats to its survival. However, local populations may be affected by habitat disturbances and changes in environmental conditions.

American Flamingo Sounds



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American Flamingo Fun Facts

Did you know?
The American Flamingo is the national bird of Bahamas

American Flamingos on Birda

Sightings

More Flamingos

A photo of a Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)

Lesser Flamingo

Phoeniconaias minor
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