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Flamingo

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Flamingo
Carribean Flamingo.jpg
Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Phoenicopteriformes
  • Family: Phoenicopteridae
  • Genus: Phoenicopterus
Species
  • Greater Flamingo (P. roseus)
  • Lesser Flamingo (P. minor)
  • Chilean Flamingo (P. chilensis)
  • James's Flamingo (P. jamesi)
  • Andean Flamingo (P. andinus)
  • Caribbean Flamingo (P. ruber)
Flamingo.jpg

Flamingos are birds known for their pink-ish, red-ish color and for standing on one leg. Flamingos belong to the genus phoenicopterus, and there are six different species of flamingos. They usually live near salt water and feed off of brine shrimp. Flamingos are spread out all over. A few of the places that they live in are Africa, Asia, Europe, Peru, Chile, and the Caribbean Islands.[1] Flamingos are also able to both fly and swim, and because of it, it took scientists many years to figure out whether or not they were more like storks or like ducks. In the end, flamingos were put in a group all by themselves. [2]

Geographic Location

  • Greater flamingo(P. roseus): this flamingo can be found in some parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. These are also the most widespread flamingos.
  • Lesser flamingo(P. minor): are spread out from Africa to Northwest India and are the most numerous flamingos.
  • Caribbean Flamingo (P. ruber):Galapagos Islands and the Caribbean Islands.
  • Andean Flamingo (P. andinus):Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina.
  • James's Flamingo (P. jamesi):Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina.
  • Chilean Flamingo (P. chilensis): South Africa.[3]

Anatomy

Flamingos are pink-feathered birds with black tipped wings that stand on one leg. It is normally found difficult to distinguish between the male and female because they are so similar in appearance. [4] The color of the flamingo's feathers changes from grey as hatchlings to almost red as adults if they are healthy and eating more. Flamingos get the color from the pigments in their food they eat. You can tell if a flamingo hasn’t had much food lately because they will be a lighter shade of pink, or white. Flamingos that are more vibrantly colored are more attractive for mates.

The reason flamingos stand on only one leg is not fully known, but one theory is that tucking a leg under the body conserves more body heat and keeps the flamingo warm. Another theory is to keep the leg from getting wet, to save more body heat and energy. Flamingos also use their webbed feet for getting food by stomping on the mud in the water so that they can stir the water to find food.[5]

Reproduction

Flamingo sitting on nest

Flamingos are able to start reproducing at age three, and in the wild, birds ages six and older had a higher breeding success rate than most of the younger flamingos. You can tell that a flamingo has reached sexual maturity by the color of its plumage. If the bird has light pink plumage, its probably not sexually mature, but a sexually mature bird at two or three years of age has deep pink plumage.

Flamingos in Mexico breed in May and flocks that live in the Bahamas breed in March through June. Flamingos may not breed every year, since in the wild, breeding season is linked to rainfall and whether or not there is enough food. The flamingos also need the rainfall because rain makes wet mud, which they need to be able to build their nests.[6]

Ecology

Flamingos feed on brine shrimp, using their bills to separate the shrimp from the mud and slit. They filter their food with lamellae (small hairs) that line the mandibles and the tongue. They also produce milk that is like pigeon milk that is fed to their chicks until the chicks have developed enough to be able to filter feed. The milk is produced in glands lining the upper digestive tract and is produced because of a hormone called prolactin.[7]

Since flamingos usually live in areas with salt water, they have to excrete the salt they may consume when they are drinking water. Flamingos do this by excreting the salt through salt glands that are in their skull right above their eyes, and these glands drain out to the nasal cavity and out the nostrils.[8]

Gallery

References