May 29th is Pink Flamingo Day! This day was originally created to honor the popular plastic lawn ornaments created by Don Featherstone in 1957. But we thought we’d piggyback on it to bring you some facts about actual flamingoes:

  • Flamingoes are large wading birds known for their long legs, curving necks, large beaks and striking pink coloration. Long thought to be related to storks, ibises and spoonbills, they have been shuffled around numerous times since, being grouped with waterfowl lick ducks and geese before eventually being placed within the group Columbea, which includes pigeons, doves and grebes.
  • Their vibrant coloration is a result of the food they eat. Flamingoes consume lots of brine shrimp, using their unique bills to sift through mud and silt with their head upside down, filtering out the shrimpy goodness. The pigments in their food, called carotenoids, are absorbed by the birds and show up in the form of pink feathers. A flamingo’s diet will determine its color – those that eat less of the food rich in carotenoids will be paler in color.
  • There are six species of flamingo: two from the “Old World” of Africa, India, Europe and Asia, and four from the “New World” of North and South America. Though most New World species live in South America, one species – the American Flamingo – is found in the Caribbean Islands, as well as Mexico and Belize in Central America.

 

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Wings of the World Flamingo Figure Good Luck Minis Flamingo

 

  • The American Flamingo is the only species known to have been native to the United States. Historically, its range included South Florida, though it was thought to be extinct there until very recently. Flamingoes sighted recently in Florida were believed to have escaped from zoos, though scientific studies have shown that many flamingoes seen in Florida are actually native American Flamingoes, and they are believed to be growing in number.
  • Flamingoes are the tallest bird species, and can stand as high as five feet tall. They are far from the heaviest, however, as much of their size comes from their long, thin legs and neck. The largest Flamingo species is the Greater Flamingo, while the smallest is the Lesser Flamingo. Despite being small for a Flamingo, it’s still quite tall for a bird, with a height of nearly three feet.
  • Flamingoes are known for standing on one leg, while tucking the other leg close to their body. It’s not known exactly why they do this, though scientists have a few theories. Some believe it helps keep the flamingoes warm by conserving body heat, while others believe it helps them conserve energy.

 

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