Bird’s ID – American Flamingo

American Flamingo


The American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is a large species of flamingo closely related to the greater flamingo and Chilean flamingo.  It is the only flamingo that naturally inhabits North America.

The American flamingo is a large wading bird with reddish-pink plumage. Like all flamingos, it lays a single chalky white egg on a mud mound, between May and August; incubation until hatching takes from 28 to 32 days; both parents brood the young for a period up to 6 years when they reach sexual maturity. Their life expectancy of 40 years is one of the longest in birds.

Adult American flamingos are smaller on average than greater flamingos but are the largest flamingos in the Americas. They measure from 120 to 145 cm (47 to 57 in) tall. The males weigh an average of 2.8 kg (6.2 lb), while females average 2.2 kg (4.9 lb). Most of its plumage is pink, giving rise to its earlier name of rosy flamingo and differentiating adults from the much paler greater flamingo. The wing coverts are red, and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink and white with an extensive black tip. The legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking.

The American flamingo has adapted to its shallow-water environment in several ways. It has evolved long legs and large webbed feet to wade and stir up the bottom of the water bed to bring up their food source to then be retrieved. To feed, it has evolved a specialized beak which is hooked downward and features marginal lamellae on the upper mandible, and inner and outer lamellae on both the upper and lower mandibles. These are adapted for filtering out differently sized food from the water. Depending on the food source in their area, diets depend on the exact morphology of their beaks on what can and cannot be strained out of them. It submerges its head underwater to retrieve its food and may have its head underwater for long times, which requires it to hold its breath.


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© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

9 thoughts on “Bird’s ID – American Flamingo

  1. Have you heard the story of the flamingo that escaped from a Kansas City zoo and showed up in Texas? You can read the story and see some photos here. The bird is banded, and believe me — there’s no mistaking a flamingo for a Texas native!

  2. Pingback: Bird’s ID – American Flamingo — H.J. Ruiz – Avian101 – The Roost Online

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