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Phoenicopteriformes - Flamingos
 
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Phoenicopteriformes
Family: Flamingos
 
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All Flamingos
 
Images:   
Chilean Flamingo
 
  Order Phoenicopteriformes - Flamingos
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  Flamingos have been placed with a number of groups over the years (Ciconiiformes, Anseriformes, with stilts and avocets in the Charadriiformes, etc.). The closest relationships presently appear to be with the grebes. Stay tuned!
   As to our authorities -- Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) place them in the Order Ciconiiformes between the Hammerhead and ibises. Dickinson (2003) places them between the grebes and waders. Clements (2007) places them after the waders.
 
  Family Phoenicopteridae - Flamingos
Wiki     ToL     EoL
EXAMPLE
  5 species, 3 genera. All species are closely related and may belong to one genus. Tropical and subtropical Caribbean, South America, Mediterranean, Africa, southern Asia.
   Flamingos are tall, pink waders, belonging to one of the most ancient bird families (30 MYBP). They  combine a mosaic of the characters of ducks and storks: long , spindly legs, long necks, webbed feet, and a bill that is bent in the middle with fine, transverse lamellae on the inner surfaces of the maxilla and mandible (jaws). The maxilla fits inside the mandible or rests on it. The mandible has a hooked posterior process as in ibises. The nostrils are holorhinal and and nares are slit-like and pervious. The tongue is fleshy as in ducks. Lores are bare. They have large caeca. The sternum is stork-like (along with the pterylosis, pelvis, other skeletal features, muscle characters, and intestinal coiling). They have a densely tufted, bilobed oil gland. The pelvic muscle formula is BXY+. The middle toe is entire and the hallux is small or absent.  Tarsi are scutate and the tibia are mostly bare. Carotids fuse near the base into one vessel (the right root is reduced). They have 11 primaries, 23-25 secondaries, 12-16 tail feathers and 19 cervical vertebrae. Young have two sets of natal down (like penguins and tube-nosed swimmers). Based on recent studies, they appear to be a sister group of the grebes (Podicipediformes).
   Flamingos occur in southern France, Africa, southern Asia, the Andes, the Yucatan Peninsula, the West Indies and the Galapagos. They are highly social, feeding in groups and nesting in colonies, clucking and calling like geese. On occasion, flocks may exceed a million birds feeding at one site. They usually inhabit shallow soda lakes and salt lagoons with a pH up to 10.5 (highly alkaline) in barren country, often surrounded by desert. Flamingos often stand on one leg (heat conservation, sleep?).
   Flamingos have a unique feeding method - the head is lowered to water and the bill is held upside down with the bill and head submerged. The head is swept for side to side, collecting algae, diatoms, and other planktonic organisms (small flamingos). Larger flamingos take mud and water into the bill as they feed. The fleshy tongue moves rapidly like a piston inside the bill, pressing mud and water out through the lamellae which retain the edible materials (algae, invertebrates, small brine shrimp). They may trample the mud to stir up food. They also feed while swimming or upending in shallow water (like dabbling ducks).
   They nest in colonies (with up to thousands of individuals - seldom less than 10 pairs). Nests are built of stones or mud picked up by both sexes and placed beneath their body in shallow water to form a circular pile with a shallow depression on top. They may be up to 30 cm high and are placed so adults on adjacent nests cannot touch one-another. They usually lay one white egg. Incubation takes 27-36 days. The young have a short, woolly down. Young are nidifiguous. They are fed by regurgitation from crop glands and glands lining the upper digestive tract (esophagus). "Crop milk" production is controlled by prolactin (as in pigeons). The milk includes more fat than is found in pigeon milk and may include some blood cells at first. The fluid is dark red (due to the canthaxanthin pigments in their food), and later becomes yellowish. The chick holds its open bill upwards and the adult drips the regurgitant in to it. They remain in the nest for 5-8 days. After a few days, chicks join large crèches where they continue to be fed by their parents until they are able to feed themselves (after 3-6 weeks). Parents may continue to feed for at least 3 months in some species. The red legs and bill of the chick turn black in a few days. Young have two coats of down  - the second is darker.
    Flamingos attain adult plumage by the second year and may breed in the third (but many first breeders are older). Flamingos may live 25-60 years.
   The pink plumage of adults depends on the availability of canthaxanthin (a beta carotene) in their food. In captivity, flamingos tend to loose their pink color unless this pigment is included in their diet (similar to the case in salmon where pigment must be added to the diet of farmed-fish to ensure proper color on the table).
 
 
All Flamingos:

    According to Clements (2007):
   Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus
- S. Europe to S Afrida and the Indian subcontinent
   Caribbean Flamingo, P. ruber - local, from Caribbean to ne Brazil and the Galapagos
   Chilean Flamingo, P. chilensis - Andes of South America, pampas of Brazil and Argentina
   Lesser Flamingo, P. minor - local, Africa and Madagascar to nw India
   Andean Flamingo, P. andianus - high Andes of s Peru to nw Argentina and n Chile
   Puna Flamingo, P. jamesi - High Andes of sw Peru to nw Argentina and n Chile

   According to Sibley and Monroe (1992):
   Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus [ruber] ruber - s Palearctic and s Asia to nw African coasts
   Chilean Flamingo - P. [ruber] chilensis - Andes of s South America
   Lesser Flamingo - P minor - local in Africa and s Asia (wanders widely in Africa)
   Andean Flamingo - P andinus - High Andes of South America - winters to lower elevations
   Puna Flamingo - P. jamesi - High Andes of South America
     
    Waders  
   
Chilean Flamingos
(with a Roseate Spoonbill and
American Bittern).
(Links to SI Web)
Monterey Bay Aquarium
 
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
 



   
  Banner - Greater Flamingos, Punta Cormorant, Foreana, Galapagos Islands.