110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Dec 30, 2012 - 9:19:31am
Flamingos usually stand on one leg — even when sleeping. They can fly and swim in the wild in the tropics or subtropics of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Central and South America.
The Caribbean, Puna, Andean, lesser, greater, Chilean and James's Flamingo are the species of flamingo that adorn many of the world's shallow lakes, tidal flats and lagoons.
However, seeing a Caribbean flamingo sitting — as shown in the photo accompanying this column — was something new! Flamingos vary in color from white to all hues of pink. Their diet of brine shrimp and algae dictates the feathers' color.
Flamingos vary slightly in size, but the Caribbean flamingo is about 43 inches tall, has a 45-inch wingspan, and weighs about 6 pounds. It has a long neck, very long legs, webbed feet, and unique, upside-down beaks. Males are slightly larger than females.
Flamingos filter-feed by separating mud and silt from the food they eat by "bottom scooping" in the water. The nutritious food stays in their mouth, and the water strains out of the sides of their beak. They live about 20 years in the wild.
These very social birds live in colonies that can number in the thousands. When mating time comes, both male and female build the nest for their one egg per season. Nests are built on the ground out of small mounds of mud, small stones, straw and feathers.
Both parents incubate the egg, and both feed "crop milk" to their chick. This milk comes from the upper digestive system, and is just for the young. Many kinds of birds feed this way.
The word "flamingo" comes from the Latin word for flame. I hope you enjoy the beauty of flamingos, wherever you see them.
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at email@example.com.
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