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Flamingo

   

Flamingos are gregarious wading birds, usually 3 to 5 feet high, found in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. They are more numerous in the latter. Flamingos filter-feed on shellfish and algae. Their oddly-shaped beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they consume, and are uniquely used upside-down. There are 6 species worldwide and 2 species which occur in Namibia.

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is found in parts of Africa, southern Asia (coastal regions of Pakistan and India), and southern Europe (including Spain, Sardinia, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, and the Camargue region of France). Some populations are short distance migrants, and records north of the breeding range are relatively frequent; however, given the species' popularity in captivity whether these are truly wild individuals is a matter of some debate. A single bird was seen on North Keeling Island (Cocos (Keeling) Islands) in 1988.
Greater Flamingo is the state bird of Gujarat, India.

This is the largest species of flamingo, averaging 110–150 cm tall and weighing 2–4 kg. The largest male flamingoes have been recorded at up to 187 cm tall and 4.5 kg. It is closely related to the American Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo, with which it has sometimes been considered conspecific, but that treatment is now widely seen (e.g., by the American and British Ornithologists' Union) as incorrect and based on a lack of evidence.

Like all flamingos, this species lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound.

Most of the plumage is pinkish-white, but the wing coverts are red and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink with a restricted black tip, and the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking.

Habitat: The bird resides in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. Using its feet the bird stir up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and mollusks.

Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor

The Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor) is a species in the flamingo family of birds that resides in Africa (principally in the Great Rift Valley) and in southern Asia. Birds are occasionally reported from further north, but these are generally considered to be escapees.

Characteristics: The Lesser Flamingo is the smallest and most numerous flamingo, probably numbering up to two million individual birds. They generally weigh 4.5 lb are 3 ft long, stand 3 ft 3 in tall, and have a wingspan of 3 ft 3 in.

Most of the plumage is pinkish white. The clearest difference between this species and Greater Flamingo, the only other Old World species, is the much more extensive black on the bill. Size is less helpful unless the species are together, since the sexes of each species also differ in height.

This species feeds primarily on Spirulina, algae which grow only in very alkaline lakes. Although blue-green in colour, the algae contain the photosynthetic pigments that give the birds their pink colour. Their deep bill is specialised for filtering tiny food items. The lesser flamingo also feeds on shrimp.

Lesser Flamingos are prey to a variety of species, including Marabou Storks, Baboons, African Fish Eagles and Wildcats.

Breeding: In Africa, where they are most numerous, the Lesser Flamingos breeds principally on the highly caustic Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. Their other African breeding sites are at Etosha Pan, Sua Pan and Kamfers Dam. The last confirmed breeding at Aftout es Saheli in coastal Mauritania was in 1965. Breeding occurred at Lake Magadi in Kenya in 1962 when Lake Natron was unsuitable due to flooding. In the early 20th century breeding was also observed at Lake Nakuru.

   
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