Flamingos are among the most beautiful birds that live in the water. Some are known for their gray or white feathers. Others are known for their pink and red feathers. Mostly, you will see them wading. But you can also see them standing on one foot. They are found in most places in the world. One of these places is Africa. You can see these beautiful birds in Kenya, Tanzania, and many other countries. They are divided into 6 species. The largest flamingo is about 5 feet tall. This is the greater flamingo. The lesser flamingo is about 3 feet tall. Here are 5 fascinating facts about flamingos (Phoenicopteridae). Sightings of flamingos in Lake Nakuru are among the superb safari experiences.
5 fascinating facts about flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)
- They are omnivores
What do flamingos eat? They eat algae, larvae, small insects, and small fish. They eat both meat and vegetation. This makes them omnivores. Smaller flamingos eat blue-green algae. Larger flamingos eat larger organisms. This also depends on the type of bill a flamingo has. Flamingos with a deep-keeled bills tend to eat algae. Those with shallow-keeled bills tend to eat small fish and insects. This reduces competition for food.
Algae contain beta-carotene. It is an organic chemical with a reddish-orange pigment. Flamingos are pink because of this pigment. The pigment is also in other plants such as carrots, pumpkins, tomatoes, and spinach.
Flamingos are different in color. Some are pink in color. For example, flamingos in Lake Nakuru in Kenya are pink. Others have orange or bright red colors. For example, American flamingos are orange. These differences are a result of different levels of carotene in food.
If a flamingo does not feed on foods with carotene, its color would change. For example, Kenyan flamingos would lose their pinkish color. This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about flamingos (Phoenicopteridae).
In captivity, flamingos need a special diet to retain their color. Without the diet, they will lose that color.
- They live in larger flocks
Where do flamingos live? You will find flamingos in saline or alkaline lakes. You can find them in sandy islands, tidal flats, and mangrove.
They live in groups known as flocks. As a group, they can protect themselves. A flock can have several dozens of birds. But it can also have up to a million birds. As a flock, they can attack predators.
A flock is also better for breeding success and population growth. Flamingos are monogamous. When a pair mates, they tend to live together. During the mating season, many pairs will mate at the same time. This is why chicks hatch at the same time.
They make mud nests. When mating is successful, a female bird will lay a large egg in these nests. The egg is between 3 and 3.5 inches long. It weighs about 115 and 140 g. It takes about 31 days for the eggs to hatch. The newborn is about 70 to 90 g. Flamingos take care of the chicks as a flock. At 3 to 5 years, the chicks are mature.
- They feed chicks with crop “milk”
What do flamingos eat? Flamingo chicks feed on crop milk. This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about flamingos (Phoenicopteridae). The birds produce milk in their crops, which is part of the throat. They bring the milk through their mouth and feed their chicks. Just like human milk, this liquid is very healthy. It contains fats and proteins. Both parents can produce this liquid. They will both feed the chick until it is old enough.
- They can fly
Flamingos spend most of their time looking for food in the water. This is why we are used to seeing them on the ground. But they fly. They can fly at a speed of 35 miles per hour. They are good flyers.
They can also swim. They have a gangly look. You may think they cannot swim. But they are great swimmers. They just need to get out of the wading depth to swim well.
- They are filter feeders
This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about flamingos (Phoenicopteridae). They filter small organisms from water to get food. While eating, they put their heads upside-down. While filtering organisms, they move their bills back and forth. They use their tongues to pump out excess water.
Normally, flamingos are not migratory birds. But climate change is greatly affecting them. As a result, they are moving from one place to another. In Kenya, Lake Nakuru was known for its millions of flamingos. Due to weather changes, the birds migrate to Lake Bogoria. Mostly, they migrate at night. In one night, they can travel over 600 km.
Currently, flamingos are not endangered. They are found in plenty across the world. Poaching is their main threat. Humans hunt them for their feathers. Some people eat their tongues. Flamingos enjoy a longer lifespan. They can live up to 30 years. But with fewer threats, a good diet, and health care, they can live up to 50 years.
Now you know about the 5 fascinating facts about flamingos (Phoenicopteridae). You need to confirm these facts. You can do this by an up close and personal view of these beautiful birds. You can do this while on an African safari. Book your safari today. Feel free to reach out for any help.