animal of the week american flamingo

A leg up on the competition – The American Flamingo

For all you Vegas party animals, recognizing a flamingo comes easy. They have them on display in that one casino and hotel…you know, the Flamingo!! The awesome part is that they actually have a flamingo exhibit at the Flamingo Casino! But, you don’t have to frequent Las Vegas to be able to recognize flamingos. In fact, flamingos are an incredibly well known bird that can be spotted anywhere from their bright pink coloration. Flamingos are often seen in flocks and they are also known as the “pink birds who stand on one leg”. The American flamingo is also known as the Caribbean Flamingo and more recently the Greater Flamingo.

The tallest of the flamingos, American Flamingos, stand about 4.5 ft tall and weigh in at around 6 lbs max. The American Flamingo’s natural range is in the Caribbean and they can be found on the northern tip of South America in Columbia, Venezuela, and Brazil. There is even evidence of flamingos being found on the southern tip of Florida.

Are there any wild populations in the US?

Scientist do believe that there were once Flamingos living in the US, but they are currently only known to visit. Many museums have collected Flamingo specimens in Florida and therefore there is belief that the American Flamingo was once more common in Florida. Upon the arrival of European settlers the American Flamingo was extirpated from its range. Which means to become extinct in the wild or extinct from a certain location. When species have been extirpated they are still often found in zoos, or there are other known populations in other places. Scientists are now reporting that flamingos are returning to Florida more regularly and in larger numbers as well.

What do Flamingos eat?

All of the 6 species of flamingos, including the American Flamingo, are omnivores. This means they will eat a mixture of meat and plant material. American flamingos regularly eat blue and green algae, along with other bits of plants floating around in the water. When it comes to those meaty products, American Flamingos have evolved a shallower beak that is great for eating things like small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and even insects. American flamingos have also been seen eating insect larvae. Did you know that flamingos are not born pink? In fact, they are born a whitish grey color and do not turn pink until they have a diet high in carotenoids, which is a type of pigment produced by plants. These carotenoids will build up in the animals body and start to change the bird to the bright pink color we all know so well.

What is their lifespan?

These birds are actually considered to be a long lived bird, with a lifespan of about 40 years. There are many birds that have longer lives than American Flamingos, but they are still considered to be a longer lived bird when compared to the rest. Both male and female American Flamingos will brood or incubate the eggs, taking turns until they hatch.

Do American flamingos have teeth?

No, American Flamingos and all other species of flamingo do not have teeth.  They have a beak and just like the rest of birds they do not have teeth inside their beak. When looking at a flamingo’s beak from the side, you may see something that resembles teeth or little ridges. These are not teeth at all, in fact these little ridges are filters. When the bird has it’s head in the water looking for food, it will scoop up water along with whatever it wants to eat. It will then use it’s tongue to push out any unnecessary water, leaving only the desired food inside its beak. So, don’t freak out next time you see on of those toothy flamingos coming straight for you!

Hope you enjoyed the read defenders!  We have a massive bird area in our kids zone, so be sure to head on over and don’t forget to follow us on our Youtube channel or our other social networking sites. If you don’t have time to get to the kids zone – you can all tune in to our new podcast – called The Squadcast. We have so many great ways to learn about animals and we hope you join in on the fun!



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