Find flamingo facts: what determines their color? How many birds nest together to form a colony? And what do they eat?
A group of flamingos in flight looks like a cloud. It is often colored pale pink or bright red. In the lagoons of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, flamingos are nearly red. In Europe they are almost white. Their color depends on the foods they eat.
Flamingos nest in colonies of thousands of birds. These are usually found in swampy areas. Flamingos are good waders. They have the longest neck and legs in proportion to their body of any bird. Their nest is established shortly before eggs are laid. It is a 15-inch-high cone of mud, stones, and shells. A single offspring is produced. It is nourished by food regurgitated by its parents. When they get older, they leave the nest. Then young flamingos assemble in large groups.
Flamingos are "filter feeders." They have a curved beak with screens on the edges. The screens filter solids from swamp water. These solids may include tiny invertebrates, such as crustaceans and mollusks. How does a flamingo obtain food? It moves its bill upside down through the water. Only suitably sized food passes through the screens. The flamingo has a large tongue. It uses it to pump out the sand and mud.
Flamingos have had multiple uses. Ancient Romans used to eat the flamingo's tongue. It was considered a luxury food. Flamingo feathers have been used for decoration. Parks and racetracks have been graced with flamingos. They are encouraged to nest there. They add color and beauty to these sites.