The Phoenicopteriformes are an order of large aquatic birds comprising only the family of Phoenicopteridae (or phoenicopterids). This family consists of three genera and six living species known under the generic name of flamingos.
Flamingos are large waterfowl (80-145 cm) with long legs and long neck (The neck is the region of the body that is located between the head and the rest of the body…). They have one beak (A beak, in the strict sense, is an external anatomical structure that allows food intake and…) with a unique appearance, whose mandible (In vertebrates, the mandible forms the lower jaw and articulates…) lower is more developed (In geometry, the evolute of a plane curve is the locus of its centers of…) than the superior.
Flamingos live in groups in wetlands. They frequent the expanses ofwater (Water is a ubiquitous chemical compound on Earth, essential for all…) shallow, normally saline, brackish or alkaline, both on the coast and inland, from sea level (Sea level is the average height of the sea surface, relative to a level of…) up to almost 5000m ofaltitude (Altitude is the vertical elevation of a place or object relative to a level…).
Flamingos feed by filtering shellfish (Crustaceans (Crustacea) are arthropods, i.e. animals whose bodies…) and algae. Their curiously shaped beak is particularly well adapted to separating the mud (In sedimentology, mud is a mixture of water and fine sedimentary particles…) and slime from the foods they consume, and is used in reverse. The filtering of nutrients is facilitated by a comb structure, lamellae that line the mandibles, and by a tongue at the surface (A surface generally refers to the superficial layer of an object. The term a…) rough. The color (Color is the eye’s subjective perception of one or more wave frequencies…) of flamingos comes from the beta-carotene in their diet, derived from the cyanobacterium spirulina (Spirulina is the vernacular name for two different genera of cyanobacteria…) for Lesser Flamingos and pink crustacean pigmentation for other species.
Reproduction and raising young
The larger species nest and feed in saline or brackish water environments. The nests are made of clumped mud and have the shape of a mound with a concave top, in which a single egg is laid White (White is the color of a body heated to about 5000°C (see…).
The chick hatches with white plumage, but the adult’s feathers range in color from pale pink to red (The color red responds to different definitions, depending on the chromatic system we are doing…) lively, due to the carotenoids contained in the algae they eat. The color is also often said to be due to their shrimp diet, but that is because the shrimp themselves also feed on these algae, incorporating their pigments, and passing them on to flamingos when eaten.
All flamingos have 12 black flight feathers on each wing.
Flamingos produce a “milk” similar to that of pigeons (see Columbidae). It contains more than fat (Fat is a fatty substance in a solid state at temperature…) and less protein than in the latter, and is produced by glands which line the entire upper part of the digestive tract, and not just the crop. Young flamingos are fed this milk for two month (The month (From lat. mensis “month”, and formerly in plural “menses”) is a period of time…) approximately, until their beak is sufficiently developed to be able to filter the food. Milk also contains red and white blood cells.
They are gregarious birds found in both the New (4 species) and the Old World (The word world can refer to:) (2 species): America (America is a separate continent, to the west, from Asia and…) from South (South is a cardinal point, opposite to north.) and central, Africa (With an area of 30,221,532 km2 including the islands,…), Europe (Europe is a land region that can be considered a…) South and Middle East.
Following molecular phylogenetic work (Sibley & Monroe classification), the order of the phoenicopteriformes was deleted, and the family of the phoenicopteridae integrated into the order of the ciconiiformes (The Ciconiiformes are an order of wading birds that includes the only family of…). In more recent phylogenetic classifications, the order regains its relevance.
Alphabetical list of genres
According to the COI:
- Phoeniconaias (f.) Gray, GR 1869
- Phoenicoparrus (m.) Bonaparte 1856
- Phoenicopterus (m.) Linnaeus, 1758
List of species & subspecies
- Caribbean Flamingo or Cuban Flamingo — Phoenicopterus ruber Linnaeus, 1758 —
- Flamingo (The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widely used flamingo species…) – Phoenicopterus roseus Pallas, 1811
- Chilean Flamingo — Phoenicopterus chilensis Molina, 1782 —
- Lesser Flamingo — Phoeniconaias minor (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1798) —
- Andean Flamingo — Phoenicoparrus andinus (Philippi, 1854) —
- James Flamingo — Phoenicoparrus jamesi (PL Sclater, 1886) —
The six taxa are listed in Appendix II of the Cites.
The term flamingo derives from Provençal flamencoa term that would evoke the red color of the plumage recalling the fire (Fire is the production of a flame by an exothermic chemical reaction of oxidation…).