Friday, 24 December 2010

American flamingo

Phoenicopterus ruber

Photo by Jim Legault (Birding in Rio Lagartos, Yucatan)

Common name:

Order Phoenicopteriformes
Family Phoenicopteridae

These birds are found in Central and South America. They are present in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, in Colombia, Venezuela, the Guyanas and northern Brazil. They are also found in the Caribbean, in the Bahamas, Hispaniola, Cuba and Turks & Caicos. Finnaly, they also breed in the Galápagos islands.

American flamingos are 120-140 cm long and have a wingspan of 150 cm. The males are larger than females, the first weigh 2,8 kg while the latter weigh 2,2 kg.

These birds are mostly found in saline lagoons, mudflats, and shallow brackish coastal or inland lakes. Locally, they also use mangrove areas.

American flamingos use their curved bills to strain food particles from the water, including protozoans, diatoms, algae and other lake organisms. They also take worms, molluscs, small crustaceans, insect larvae and even aquatic plants.

American flamingos breed in May-August. Females lay 1 chalky white egg, which is incubated for 28-32 days. The young remain with the parents for up to 6 years, when they reach sexual maturity. These birds may live up to 40 years.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and an increasing population currently estimated at 260.000-330.000 individuals.

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