Nearly everyone knows what flamingos look like ---pink birds with long legs.
You can see them at just about every zoo. You can find them in storybooks. Alice
uses flamingos as croquet mallets in Through the Looking Glass (by Lewis Carroll).
Images of flamingos, standing under palm trees, appear in paperweights and snow
globes. Plastic flamingos make colorful lawn ornaments!! But did you know that
some flamingos live high up in the Andes Mountains of South America? Flamingos
can swim, and flamingos can fly.
Ornithologists (scientists who sturdy birds) spent many years arguing
whether flamingos are more like ducks, or more like storks, until they decided that
flamingos belong in a group by themselves.
There are 5 species of flamingos that occur throughout the world. The
greater flamingo is as tall as a grown-up person is. The lesser flamingo is as tall as
Flamingos live in lagoons, or lakes, where there is lots of mud and water.
Flamingos use a variety of habitats: mangrove swamps, tidal flats, and sandy
islands in the intertidal zone. The depth of the water is especially important not
only for feeding but for nesting. Lakes may be far inland or near the sea.
Feather color varies with species, ranging from pale pink to crimson or
vermilion. Caribbean flamingos have the brightest coloration: crimson or vermilion.
The Chilean flamingo is pale pink.
A flamingo's pink or reddish feather color comes from its diet, which is high
in alpha and beta-carotene. People eat beta-carotene when they eat carrots.
The typical flamingo diet consists of diatoms, seeds, blue-green algae,
crustaceans, and mollusks they filter out of the water. Using their long legs and
partially webbed feet, flamingos will stamp on the muddy bottom of lagoons to mix
the food particles with the water. Different species of...