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.
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.
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.
Mesmerizing to watch, each flamingo moved swiftly across the lagoon, sifting, endless sifting.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander