Long Legged Beauties
Flamingos are found in large, shallow lakes or lagoons. With their bright pink or red color, long legs and strong beaks, flamingos are one of the most easily recognizable of birds. Flamingos like to live in groups of varying sizes, from a few pair to sometimes thousands or tens of thousands. In East Africa, more than one million flamingos may gather together—forming the largest flocks known among birds today. They stand on one leg most of the time, as they find it very comfortable! Flamingos are quite distinctive when they fly, with their long necks stretched out in front and the equally long legs trailing behind.
- Genus/species: The main genus of the flamingo is Phoenicopterus and the species is Phoenicopteridae. There are also six other species.
- Location: Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.
Flamingos can be as tall as a 12 year old child- five feet- but weigh only as much as a new born baby! Their long legs let flamingos wade into deeper water than most other birds to look for food. It feeds by sucking water and mud in at the front of its 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. Flamingoes sometimes swim to get their food, and sometimes by ‘upend’ themselves, with tail feathers in the air, and head underwater- like ducks.
Scientists have discovered that flamingos are dying by the thousands along the East African Rift lakes. However, they have not yet found the reason why this is happening. The main danger to flamingoes comes from pollution and loss of habitat. Unless these threats are dealt with, flamingoes may become endangered.