The flamingo, the most famous of the waders

Perched on high paws and endowed with a long neck, the bird is distinguished above all by a color that makes it unique. Impossible to confuse the flamingo with any other species. Portrait of an elegant wading bird which owes its color to its food.

Shades of pink for the wader

The flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is a wading bird belonging to the Phœnicoptéridae family. Equipped with a long neck, waders take their name from their large paws reminiscent of stilts. The flamingo has a body entirely tinged with a more or less pronounced pinkish white. Its wing cover very frequently shows a red coloration coral while the flight feathers are black. The juvenile sports a white body with a head grey and dark wings. Unique in the ornithological world, its thick and curved beak allows the filtration water and mud thanks to the fines slats covering the edges and the inner part of the mandibles. The flamingo measures 120 to 145 cm long with a wingspan of 140 to 165 cm. Its weight is between 2 kg and 4 kg.

Why is the flamingo pink?

It is around the age of one that pink appears and spreads all over the body from the age of three. The observation of flamingos living in captivity and whose plumage became Grey allowed to deduce that the wader was not able to produce the dye. Studies then established that the coloring element (astaxanthin) was found in the diet of the bird and more precisely in a salt marsh microalga (Dunaliella salina) as well as in the shrimp Artemia salina which the flamingos love. Astaxanthin, a molecule belonging to the carotenoid family (pigment found in carrots) also imparts the pinkish color to many other species: scarlet ibis, crab, lobster, crayfish, lobster, Salmon or the sea bream.

Its habitat is not lacking in salt

The flamingo’s range extends from southernEurope to Southeast Asia and Africa to Central America. European breeding populations are mainly found in Spain, France, Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan and on the island of Cyprus. With the Camargue, France has the main breeding site in the western Mediterranean, hosting each spring up to 50,000 specimens. The coastal bird frequents salt marshes, lagoons, estuaries and in general, bodies of water (such as inland lakes) not subject to the influence of tides and provided they are shallow and salty. The flamingo breeds in mudflats, on sandbanks or open beaches.

Community life for the flamingo

The flamingo is a bird sociable and gregarious whose life is placed under the sign of the community. Wading birds gather in hundreds or thousands of individuals on the sites of feeding or nesting. To migrate, birds usually form more or less loose groups that fly slowly and in line indian with the neck and legs outstretched. In view of its weight and especially its size, the flamingo must run to reach the speed necessary for its take-off. At rest, he often stands on A paw like storks and spends most of their time feeding and preening their plumage.

The cribs of little pink flamingos

In the flamingo, the displays bridal take place from late winter to early spring. Sometimes forming colonies of several thousand individuals, the pairs gather at the nesting site and the spawns start in early April and run until the end of May. The nest consists of a rough earthenware cup built on a small mound muddy in which the female lays an egg unique brooded alternately by both parents for a little over a month. The young leave the nest after ten days and are gathered and fed in a kind of nursery. collective supervised by adults. Juveniles take their first flight around three months and reach their maturity sexual at the age of about three.

Stable population for the flamingo

When grouped together, adult flamingos experience littleenemies. Only subjects made weak by illness or injury, as well as eggs and young people are attacked. Among their predators are eagles, gulls and the marabout, a very large wading bird living in tropical latitudes. The flamingo also fears the cold which can imprison it in frozen water or make its food scarce. By preserving its wetlands from drying out, Europe benefits from populations of flamingos stable. The bird, protected in France, is classified as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is not considered threatened.

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