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Phoenicopteridae - Flamingos

Flamingo
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus ©Trevor Hardaker Website

Phoenicopteridae are a small family of wading birds made up of the flamingos. Flamingos or flamingoes are the only family in the order Phoenicopteriformes. There are four flamingo species in the Americas and two species in the Old World.

They are large waterbirds with long neck and legs, and unique down-curved bill adapted to filter-feeding. The bill, held upside down, is used to filter the water for small shrimps, molluscs and insects, with the tongue acting as a piston to draw water through the bill. Their pink colour comes from algae rich in carotenid pigments. They are thus adapted to life in a fairly specialised habitat, salt lakes. Their distribution is world-wide excepting Australasia and Antarctic.

Flamingos usually stand on one leg while the other is tucked beneath their body. The reason for this behaviour is not fully understood. Recent research indicates that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. However, the behaviour also takes place in warm water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.

Flamingos are very social birds; they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. These large colonies are believed to serve three purposes for the flamingos: avoiding predators, maximising food intake, and using scarce suitable nesting sites more efficiently.

Before breeding, flamingo colonies split into breeding groups of about 15 to 50 birds. Both males and females in these groups perform synchronised ritual displays. The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, then uttering calls while head-flagging, and then flapping their wings. The displays do not seem to be directed towards an individual but instead occur randomly.

There are generally considered to be just six species in this family, which are:

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis
Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor
Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus
James's Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi

Family Links

Flamingos Phoenicopteridae

IBC Family Account

Ciconiiformes also includes storks, herons, and ibises - i.e. birds with long legs and long necks. The task of placing flamingos in the correct order presented taxonomists with quite the challenge:

Flamingos Phoenicopteridae

Family Account

Phoenicopteridae is a wading bird family including flamingos and their close extinct relatives.

Flamingos Phoenicopteridae

HBW Family Account

HBW family account

Species Links

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

Species Account

The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) is a large species of flamingo at 110–130 cm (43–51 in) closely related to Caribbean flamingo and greater flamingo, with which it was sometimes considered conspecific...

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

IUCN Species Status

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

BirdLife Species Account

Full species account

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

IBC Species Account

IBC species account

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

Species Account

The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is found in Africa, on the Indian subcontinent, in the Middle East and southern Europe.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

IUCN Species Status

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

IUCN Species Status

IUCN species status and profile

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

HBW Species Account

HBW species account

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

Cornell Species Account

Cornell species account

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

IBC Species Account

IBC species account

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

Species Account

The lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) is a species of flamingo occurring in sub-Saharan Africa with another population in India. Birds are occasionally reported from further north, but these are generally considered vagrants.

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile and status

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

HBW Species Account

HBW species account

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

IBC Species Account

IBC species account

American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

Species Account

American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile and status

American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

Cornell Species Account

Cornell species account

American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

HBW Species Account

HBW species account

American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus

Species Account

The Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus) is one of the rarest flamingos in the world. It lives in the Andes mountains of South America.

Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species status and profile

Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus

IBC Species Account

IBC species account

Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus

HBW Species Account

HBW species account

James's or Puna Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi

Species Account

The James's flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi), also known as the puna flamingo, is a species of flamingo that populates the high altitudes of Andean plateaus of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.

James's or Puna Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile and status

James's or Puna Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi

HBW Species Account

HBW species account

Andean Flamingo Phoenicopterus andinus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

James's or Puna Flamingo Phoenicopterus jamesi

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 6