Flamboyant and Fantastic Flamingoes

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These gregarious wading birds are also born with straight bill but curves as they grow. There are 6 species of flamingoes, four in the New World (Americas) and two in the Old World.

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

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The Greater Flamingo is the largest species of flamingo. It can grow up to 187 cm in height and can weigh up to 4.5 kg. It is also the most widespread species of flamingo and can be found in Africa, Asia and Europe.

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The Greater Flamingo’s plumage is pinkish-white but the wing coverts are red and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. Its curved bill is pink with a restricted black tip. Its slender legs are entirely pink.

Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor)

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The Lesser Flamingo is the smallest but the most abundant of all flamingoes. It lives in the Great Rift Valley in Africa and in southern Asia.

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The pinkish-white Lesser Flamingo can attain a height of 3 ft and a weight of 2 kg. It feeds primarily on spirulina that gives the bird its pink color. It also feeds on shrimps.

James’ Flamingo (Phoenicopterus jamesi)

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The small and delicate James’ Flamingo of South America is pale pink in color with bright carmine streaks around the neck and on the back. It is named for Harry Berkeley James and breeds in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It can be differentiated to other flamingo species by its bright yellow with a black tip bill. Its legs are brick-red. It is also commonly known as the Puna Flamingo.

Andean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus andinus)

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The Andean Flamingo is a flamingo species that can only be found in the high Andes in Bolivia, Chile and Peru.

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It is pinkish-white in color but pinker than the James’ Flamingo. It is the only flamingo species that has yellow feet and legs. Its bill is also yellow but with a much more extensive black tip. It is an endangered species due to over-hunting and the low number of breeding sites around the world.

American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)

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Among the flamingo species, the American Flamingo is the most brightly colored. It is also known as the Caribbean Flamingo but the species’ presence in the Galapagos Islands makes that name problematic. It is the only flamingo species that naturally inhabits North America.

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It breeds in several places like Colombia, Venezuela, Galapagos Islands, Guyana, and Brazil and in many parts of the Caribbean and Central America. Like all other flamingos, the American Flamingo lays a single egg on a mud mound. The American Flamingo is one of the longest living birds – with a lifespan of 40 years.

Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)

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The Chilean Flamingo is another large species that grows up to 130 cm in height. The Chilean Flamingo can be differentiated from the Greater Flamingo by its grayish legs.

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The Greater Flamingo has pink legs and a bill with smaller amount of black on the tip while Chilean Flamingo has larger amount of black on the bill. The Chilean Flamingo breeds in temperate regions of South America.

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