American Flamingo used to be often called the "Caribbean Flamingo" and was
considered a subspecies of the Greater Flamingo, a species found in the
Eastern Hemisphere, but most groups now consider the American Flamingo to be
a distinct species. The status of the species in the United States is
confounded by the popularity of the American Flamingo as a captive bird, and
many sightings in the U.S. are undoubtedly escapees from captivity.
However, they do nest in Bermuda, parts of the Caribbean, and the Yucatan
peninsula of Mexico, so birds seen in Florida and elsewhere in the
southeastern United States may very well be wild in origin, especially given
a wild population is very close in Cuba. Historically, non-breeding
birds were often found in the Everglades in Florida, so movement of wild
birds to the United States on occasion is likely. Appearance of the
birds typically varies by location, as the pink and red hues in the plumage
are derived from the small crustaceans that they eat. Birds found in
the Caribbean, for example, are typically a much deeper red, while birds in
parts of South America are more of a pale pink.
Habitat: Found in brackish, shallow waters and
coastal lagoons. They are found inland on select brackish or salty
inland water bodies, as well as along the coast.
Diet: Filters out small food items in the water,
such as diatoms, algae, aquatic insects and their larvae, and small
crustaceans and mollusks.
Behavior: Feeds by sweeping its unique beak
side-to-side through the water, taking in water and filtering out small
invertebrates by straining the water out through keratinous plate structures
within its beak. They are a gregarious species, typically found in
groups both during and outside of the breeding season.
Nesting: The American Flamingo nests in dense
colonies, with a select number of traditional breeding colonies in the New
World. Breeding colonies occur on mudflats, with females constructing
individual nests made of cones of mud, sometimes with feathers and plant
material as well. Both parents tend to the young upon hatching.
Song: The American Flamingo has multiple
vocalizations, including a goose-like honking sound given in flight, as well
as low-pitched babbling while feeding in groups. Courting males and
females have additional cackling vocalizations, with higher-pitched notes by
Migration: The American Flamingo breeds in a wide
variety of locations in the western Hemisphere, including parts of the
Caribbean, Bermuda, the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, the Galapagos Islands,
and scattered locations along the coasts of South America.
Distinctive, not likely to be confused with another species in range if seen
well. Coloring is vaguely similar to
Roseate Spoonbill or
Scarlet Ibis, but size, structure,
plumage differences, bill shape, and many other features distinguish the
American Flamingo from similarly colored birds.
Photo Information: Photo taken by
Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble - April 15th, 2010 - Riscado, Netherlands
Antilles - Photo licensed under
Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.