American flamingo

(Phoenicopterus ruber)

The American flamingo is a large species of flamingo closely related to the greater flamingo and Chilean flamingo. It was formerly considered conspecific with the greater flamingo, but that treatment is now widely viewed (e.g. by the American and British Ornithologists' Unions) as incorrect due to a lack of evidence. It is also known as the Caribbean flamingo although it is present in the Galápagos Islands. In Cuba it is also known as the Greater Flamingo. It is the only flamingo that naturally inhabits North America.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Phoenicopteriformes
Family: Phoenicopteridae
Genus: Phoenicopterus
Specie: Phoenicopterus ruber


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 of 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.
It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


The diet of the American Flamingo primary consists of algae and a variety of crustaceans. Sometimes they will even eat a variety of plants that are found in the water due to the high nutritional content they provide. They tend to find plenty to eat which strongly influences their ability to mate.
They need the rain as well as sufficient food to be able to do so. Some years they have one breeding season and others they have too if there is enough rainfall and enough food. Generally the two go hand and hand. When there is a lack of both, there may not be any mating season at all that year.


The American flamingo lives in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water.


American flamingos live in large social groups that have as many as 10,000 birds. They spend most of the day feeding. When an area no longer provides enough food, the flamingos migrate to another location at night.
Flamingos are very skittish and fly away if they are disturbed. They are also very vocal and have a number of different calls. Breeding pairs have location calls to help locate each other, and alarm calls are used to warn the group of danger. When flamingos fly in large groups, they are often mistaken for geese because of the load honking sound they make. The chicks even make calls while they are in the egg that their parents learn to recognize.

Life cycle

American flamingo American flamingos nest in large colonies. Male and female flamingos court each other with a variety of display behaviors that involve head movements, wing displays, and vocalizations. The female flamingo lays one or two eggs on a mound of mud that can be as much as a foot tall. The eggs take about a month to incubate. Both the male and female incubate the eggs. They fold their long legs and straddle the nest.
Chicks are downy gray and have a straight bill when they are born. Both parents feed the chicks. The chicks fledge in about 70-75 days. Chicks won't reach their full adult size for 1 ½ to 2 years and they won't have adult plumage for 2-4 years. Male and female pairs usually mate for life. The flamingo can live for up to 20 years in the wild.

Zoológico de Vallarta A. C.

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