Flamingos: Nature in Focus
We explore the fascinating world of flamingos in this weeks nature in focus.
Flamingos have become rather an icon, although you may have never seen one in their natural habitat I’m pretty sure you’ve got a fair idea what they look like, and of course the whole standing on one leg. There are 6 different species of flamingo averaging 4-5 feet tall. They tend to congregate in mud flats and lagoons where they find their shallow water prey, but it’s also difficult for predators to navigate.
The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico is a great place to spot flamingos, find out more on our
If you ever see a flamingo feeding they have rather a unique approach. They stir up muddy water with their feet and then use their perfectly designed beak to filter food from the mud. That’s what they’re doing when you see them shaking their heads upside down.
Flamingos aren’t all pink!
The famous pink colour is actually a result of their diet. Beta-carotene present in crustaceans, which make up their food source, is absorbed into their bodies to give them the distinctive colour. You may notice in flight that the underside of their wings has black feathers. It’s somewhat of a spectacle and certainly something that makes for an amazing photo.
Flamingos live in large flocks called colonies, these can be massive, literally millions of birds and they are monogamous in their relationships picking only one partner for life.
While the flamingo is not considered endangered they are susceptible to habitat loss as like so many animals humans encroach on their natural environment. One species in particular , the James’s flamingo was actually declared extinct in 1924 until a flock was discovered living with Chilean flamingos in South America in 1957. Since that time organisations such as the IUCN have classed flamingos as near threatened and the challenge is to ensure that we arrest the loss of habitat and ensure they don’t slip to endangered status. Unfortunately colonies globally are decreasing so we can only hope that future efforts have a wider impact.
There is always good news though, projects like the AEWA-funded waterbird conservation project have been successfully completed in Uganda. Working with the Lesser flamingo across the Queen Elizabeth conservation area the project was implemented by Nature Uganda and local conservation groups. With a heavy emphasis on raising awareness and the rehabilitation of degraded land the measures tackled human activity which was highlighted as the main issue for the flamingos. At Eco Companion we champion these kind of projects that balance hands on activity with local education to ensure the animals welfare is front of mind and sustainable activities are implemented so both human and wildlife can live side by side.
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