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Facts About Flamingo Habitat

Omkar Phatak
Flamingos are some of the most beautiful birds you will ever see, distinguished by their pink plumage and long legs. The six species of flamingos have habitats ranging across the continents, so plan to see their magnificence live, instead of watching them through a television safari.

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The Pink Mystery

The distinctly pink plumage of flamingos results from high levels of beta-carotene and aqueous bacteria in their daily diet. A darker pink shade is an indicator of a well-fed and healthy flamingo, while paleness indicates malnutrition.
Flamingos are long-legged and long-lived wading birds with pink plumage. They are known to populate various tropical and sub-tropical areas in the world. This is one of the oldest known bird families, dating back to 30 million years. Six species are known to exist. These beautiful birds were once worshiped by the ancient Egyptians as living incarnations of the God Ra.

Flamingo Habitats Around the World

Wetlands, including large alkaline, saline lakes, or lagoons without vegetation, are the preferred habitats of flamingos. The lakes could be inland or near the sea. They thrive in a variety of habitats like sandy islands in intertidal zones, mangrove swamps, and tidal flats.

There are six flamingo species around the world. Two are found in the old world (Eurasia and Africa) and four in the American continents.

Greater Flamingo

The 'Greater Flamingos' (a.k.a Phoenicopterus roseus) are the most widespread species in the family. This is the largest of all the species, with a height ranging from 43 to 60 inches and weight ranging from 4.4 to 8.8 pounds.
Greater Flamingos are known to live for as much as 75 years or more. They are found in Africa, the southern part of Asia (particularly, coastal parts of India and Pakistan), Middle East, Western Mediterranean, and the southern part of Europe (France, Spain, Turkey, Albania, Greece, Italy). Stray sightings have been reported all over the world. The Camargue region, in France, is particularly known to be a preferred breeding location.

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Some of the spots where Greater Flamingos can be found in Africa are the Great Rift valley and particularly Lake Natron in Tanzania, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Bogoria National Park in Kenya.

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The coastal part of southern Mediterranean sea, along Tunisia and Egypt are places where they are often sighted in large flocks.

Lesser Flamingo

The 'Lesser Flamingos' (Phoenicopterus minor) are smaller-sized species, weighing up to 2.6 to 6.0 pounds, with a height range from 31 to 35 inches. They are found throughout Africa and particularly in the 'Great Rift Valley'.

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Almost two-third of the population is located in Africa, and the rest is distributed in Spain, Iran, Oman, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Southern Asia (India, Pakistan).
Lesser Flamingos are the most numerous of all the species. In Africa, they are primarily sighted at Lake Natron, in Tanzania, at Etosha pan in Kalahari basin, situated north of Namibia, the Makgadikgadi Pan in Northeastern Botswana, and Kamfers Dam in Kimberley, South Africa. In Northwestern India, its home is in the Zinzuwadia and Purabcheria salt pans.

Chilean Flamingo

Standing about 43 to 51 inches tall, the Chilean flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis) form a species which closely resembles the greater and American flamingos.
They are found in South America (in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil). California and Utah also host small populations. Their preferred habitat consists coastal estuaries, salt water lakes, and lagoons. Their current status is 'Near Threatened'.

Andean Flamingo

The Andean flamingos (Phoenicopterus Andinus) are restricted to the high Andes mountains (2,500 to 4,950 m above sea level) in Southern Peru, Northern Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. This species faces the danger of extinction (currently classified as vulnerable) due to hunting and depleting number of breeding sites.

James's Flamingo

James's Flamingo (a.k.a Phoenicopterus jamesi and Puna flamingo) is a small species, which is found mostly in the high Andean plateaus of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, in South America. It is, therefore, closely related to the Andean flamingo.

American Flamingo

The American flamingo is closely related to and resembles the greater flamingo. It breeds in coastal Columbia and Venezuela, in the Galapagos islands, in Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, Turks and Caicos islands, Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola.

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Lake Nakuru in central Kenya is a flamingo hot spot, with about 2 million of them gathering to feast on the abundant algae every year. The pink sea of flamingos is a beautiful sight to behold. It is a view worth traveling for.