The American flamingo also known as the Caribbean flamingo is a large species of flamingo.
It is found in Central and South America, the Caribbean and also in Florida, making it the only flamingo to naturally inhabit North America. It’s also found on the Galapagos Islands where, in classic Darwinian style, it has developed a few differences from American flamingos found in other parts of the world.
The American flamingo is the only species of flamingo that doesn’t share its range with other species.
Its preferred habitats are similar to those of its relatives: saline lagoons, mudflats, and shallow, brackish coastal or inland lakes.
The average lifespan of an American flamingo is about 40 years in the wild and about 60 years in captivity. Their lifespan is one of the longest in birds.
They measure from 120 to 145 cm (47 to 57 in) tall. The males weigh an average of 2.8 kg (6.2 lb), while females average 2.2 kg (4.9 lb).
American flamingos have slender legs, long, graceful necks, large wings, and short tails.
This particular species is well known for it bright colors of a scarlet red and a light pink. This outstanding color comes from the chemicals from the food they eat. In captivity they put die in their food so there color is more vibrant.
The primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink and white with an extensive black tip. The legs are entirely pink.
One of the most distinctive attribute of the American flamingo is its unipedal stance, or the tendency to stand on one leg. While the purpose of this iconic posture remains ultimately unanswered, strong evidence supports its function in regulating body temperature. Like most birds, the largest amount of heat is lost through the legs and feet – having long legs can be a major disadvantage when temperatures fall and heat retention is most important. By holding one leg up against the ventral surface of the body, the flamingo lowers the surface area by which heat exits the body.
Long legs let flamingos wade into deeper water than most other birds to look for food. And speaking of food, flamingos also have very distinctive eating habits. The bill is held upside down in the water. Flamingos feed by sucking water and mud in at the front of the bill and then pumping it out again at the sides. Here, briny plates called lamellae act like tiny filters, trapping shrimp and other small water creatures for the flamingo to eat.
In flight, these flamingos present a striking and beautiful sight, with legs and neck stretched out straight. No less interesting is the flock at rest, with their long necks twisted or coiled upon the body in any conceivable position.
Flight speed of a flock of flamingos can reach 50 to 60 kilometer per hour (31 to 37 miles per hour).
They live in large colonies, oftentimes numbering into the thousands of individuals. With these larger groups you will find that many subgroups are formed within them.
The call is a goose-like honking.
Like other flamingo species, American flamingos will migrate short distances to ensure that they get enough food or because their current habitat has been disturbed in some way.
Males and females are generally monogamous, remaining together during incubation and nurturing of the young. Mates will often remain together for many years, only choosing a new mate after the death of another.
Like all flamingos, it lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound – incubation until hatching takes from 28 to 32 days. A few days before hatching, the chick will begin to produce vocalizations. Imprinting to the parents initially starts through this vocalization while still in the egg. Once newly hatched, a chick recognizes its parents and the parents recognize the chick.
Newly hatched chicks will remain in the nest for the first 7 to 11 days, at which time they gather with other chicks in groups called “creches”. Chicks are reared by both parents until ready to fly at 65 to 90 days old. Parents are able to call and locate their young within the creche and continue to provide care until the young fledges.
American flamingos have very few predators. This is probably largely due to their choice of habitat. Hypersaline estuaries are not favorable for other species, and oftentimes the colonial sites are on islands or other areas only easily accessible by flight.