American Flamingo

American Flamingo, Galapagos

American Flamingo, Galapagos

This iconic bird breeds in many tropical locales of the western hemisphere, while its close relative, the Greater Flamingo, lives on the opposite side of the globe.


Those seen here breed in the Galapagos Islands; live in shallow, brackish water.  We had the fortune to watch them on Floreana Island, as they searched for shrimp.


American Flamingo, Floreana Island, Galapagos

American Flamingo, Floreana Island, Galapagos

With their large size and pink color, Phoenicopterus ruber are not a typical bird.  They are about 50 inches tall (127 cm), owing much of the height to its long legs.  Carotenoid pigments in the diet add to their glorious rosy color.  There are many other unique features.


Flamingoes have a specialized beak used for straining food, and it also has a salt gland.  A four-chambered heart, very long trachea, and unipedal stance are additional interesting elements of the flamingo.  To read more, click here.


Flamingo feeding, Galapagos

Flamingo feeding, Galapagos

The only flamingo in North America, American Flamingo does not breed in the U.S.


Besides the Galapagos Islands, they also live and breed on tropical islands in the Caribbean and other equatorial locations.


On Floreana Island we found them in lagoons, and were lucky to see them from a high trail, affording observational perspective as they carved paths in the mud.  Known as ecosystem engineers, they help clarify the water by filtering it.


Flying Flamingoes, Galapagos

Flying Flamingoes, Galapagos

Mesmerizing to watch, each flamingo moved swiftly across the lagoon, sifting, endless sifting.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


45 thoughts on “American Flamingo

  1. Jet the photo from high above is incredible! What amazing helpers of the environment to be filtering away. We did not get to Floreana in our short time on the Galapagos unfortunately.

    • Funny you say that, Val–whenever I see a plastic flamingo I feel a warm sweetness, having watched many real ones around the world. I’m happy you enjoyed the photos and post, and appreciate your frequent visits and comments. Have a pleasant weekend~~ 😀

    • Hi HJ — all the different colors on a flamingo, and their graceful lithe bodies, yes, such a pleasure to observe and photograph. I appreciate your kind comment, my friend, and visit. Have a fun weekend! 😀

  2. Entranced by the resplendent photos and the prominent feautures of those wondrous birds,dear Jet!l paricularly like the vermillion colour of their plumage and their long neck and legs!The symmetry and the faithful mirroring of the couple on the soft blue waters,in the first photo,are fabulous and so are the carved paths and the texture of the third photo!Also,you were so lucky to see them on the wing against the flawless blue skies!Athena did an excellent job!One of your most exhilarating posts,dear friend 🙂 *

    • Thanks so much, Doda — I am delighted you enjoyed all of Athena’s different photos and the info on this incredible bird. Seeing the flamingoes in Galapagos was so different than seeing them in the Rift Valley, as they are known to congregate in smaller groups here. We could watch the smaller groups with more undivided attention, and from the height was really nice too, before we hiked down closer to the water. They are a fascinating bird. I so appreciated your beautiful words here, today, Doda — thank you so very much.

  3. It sounds like eco scientists could learn a lot from these birds. If they don’t breed in America, does that mean the American Flamingo is an illegal immigrant? ; )

    • I was very surprised to see on the Wikipedia site a whole lot of detailed info about this species, much more than normal. I think whoever wrote it has indeed learned a lot. Liked your joke too, Jan. Thanks for bringing me a smile today! 😀

    • Flamingoes are so curious to see in flight, so long and narrow, and beautiful gliding. We were fortunate it was such a blue sky day, and that Athena was espec. quick with her lens. Thanks so much, Ingrid. I like your new gravatar! 😀

  4. I have only ever seen flamingos in nature documentaries but I am always captured by their beauty and amazing colour. Athena’s photos are stunning. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to see them in the wild. I can certainly vouch for beta carotene’s ability to act as a powerful pigment from a carrot-related mishap I once had. When I first got a juicer many years ago, in my enthusiasm I made and consumed huge quantities of what quickly became my favourite juice: fresh carrots with apple and ginger. Apparently, I must have drank a lot of it, because my friends started telling me that I literally looked orange. And I did! All that beta carotene tinted my skin an unbecoming orange hue, which had the effect of making it appear rather jaundice-looking (and not at all a pretty pink colour like a flamingo). Luckily, it wasn’t a permanent condition… :))

    • I laughed so hard at your story, Jeannie. I have never heard of a human turning orange from the beta carotene, but I certainly can see it happening and really enjoyed hearing about it. Thanks so very much, Jeannie. 😀

  5. Beautiful. I don’t think I’d ever seen them in flight before. Kudos to Athena. Had never heard of salt glands, either. Fascinating. (I love Google. 😉

    • Those salt glands come in handy, as this species of flamingo spends their time in salt water. I am glad you enjoyed the post, dear Nan. Thanks so much for your plentiful visits and comments. 😀

  6. I have always found flamingos very fascinating with their bright pink colours. The first photo is awesome, love how the two flamingos have exactly the same position and reflections in the water.

    • Flamingoes are addicting, they’re so elegant and colorful and funny-looking with the big beak and bony knees–you just don’t want to stop watching. So glad you enjoyed the photos, thanks so very much. 😀

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