Flamingos are some of the most distinct and recognizable birds in the world. Their bright pink color and wading ways makes them stand apart from the some 10,000 different species of birds in the entire world. They are truly a special group of birds with six different species, all having their own unique characteristics. Only some of these species are found in the United States.
The American Flamingo, also known as the Caribbean Flamingo, is related closely to the Greater Flamingo and the Chilean Flamingo. Although the American Flamingo is generally smaller than the Greater Flamingo, it is the largest flamingo breed naturally found in the Americas. Their maximum height is around 55 inches. Females can weigh upwards of 5 lbs. and males can reach 6 lbs.
This type of flamingo naturally inhabits the Galapagos islands, Cuba, Columbia, Venezuela and other close islands since it prefers lagoons and inland lakes. Although it’s true, the birds have also been spotted in southern Mexico, the Everglades and other locations in Florida that match their preferences as well. They are good swimmers are often travel in flocks.
The Greater Flamingo is the largest species of flamingo and the most widespread. These flamingo are found in Africa, Asia, southern Europe to include Spain, France, Turkey and Italy. These birds can reach heights of 70 inches. and weigh up to 10 lbs. Their color stands out as more of a pinkish-white compared to the American Flamingo that is more pinkish.
These birds prefer mudflats and salt water lagoons where they search for food like shrimp, mollusks and algae in the mud. They are adaptable to living in captivity and have an average lifetime in captivity of 60 years. The oldest known Greater Flamingo lives in Australia at Adelaide Zoo and is 77 years old!
The Chilean Flamingo is also related to the Greater Flamingo. They are comparable in size with the Chilean Flamingo. Their color is not as bright as the American Flamingo and it stands out with its grayish-colored legs and pink joints. It also has a large black portion on its bill.
This species of flamingo is native to South American countries like Peru and Chile. It has been transported to locations in Germany and parts of California. It has successfully been held in captivity and approximately 400 have grown up in Zoo Basel in Switzerland, where the first Chilean Flamingos were raised in captivity, and transported to zoos all around the world.
The Andean Flamingos are the rarest group of flamingos in the world. They stand out with their yellow legs and pale pink colors. They are vulnerable to extinction according to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These flamingos are found in the Andes Mountains to Argentina to Chile. They are primarily migratory birds and have the impressive ability to migrate up to 700 miles in a single day.
The Lesser Flamingo is found only in sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of India. These birds usually have a diet that consists of algae grown in alkaline lakes and some shrimp. They are the smallest of the flamingo species only reaching heights of about 3 ft, but they may be the most numerous with upwards of 2 million birds. They are still considered near-threatened because of the substantial drop in population over recent years.
The James’s Flamingo, also known as the Puna Flamingo, is closely related to the Chilean Flamingo. It is found in the same general area in South America, mainly Peru, Chile and Argentina.This bird is about the same relative size of the Lesser Flamingo and shares some of the physical characteristics. The Lesser Flamingo is lighter in color than the Chilean Flamingo, though.