Did you know…
1. The “Flamencos Extranjeros” or “Foreign Flamingos” are a family and group of close friends who met in Córdoba, Spain at various points in history and many of who now live all over the world. Some of these places include The United States of America, The Netherlands, Lebanon, Sicily in Italy, Syria, Poland, Australia, Dubai, India, Sri Lanka, The Republic of Ireland, Chile, Romania, Germany, The United Kingdom, France, Córdoba, Jaén, Málaga, Prague and Seville… See their route page for more details.
2. Our name comes from the Spanish and Latin word “flamenco” which means fire, and refers to the bright colour of our feathers. Not all of us are brightly coloured, however, and some of us are mostly grey or white. The strength of our colour depends on our diet. Our young birds also have less coloration.
3. We are strong but rare swimmers and powerful fliers, even though we’re most often seen just wading, we do fly very well, however, and many of us migrate or regularly fly between the best food sources and nesting grounds. When flying in a flock, our top speed can be as high as 50km per hour. We can seem ungainly or clumsy in flight, however, because our long necks stretch out in front of our bodies and our long legs dangle well past our short tails!
4. We hold our bent bills upside down while feeding, often for several hours a day, so we can filter out their food while skimming the water. Once fully grown, our legs can be 30-50 inches long, which is longer than their entire body. We often stand on one leg to preserve body heat, tucking the other leg in so it is kept warm. We alternate legs to regulate our body temperature.
5. We are monogamous birds that lay only a single egg each year. If that egg is lost or damaged, we do not typically lay a replacement. If one of our colonies is ransacked by predators or hit with a natural disaster, it can take several years for the us to recover and for our population to grow again.
6. Our chicks are born grey or white and take up to three years to reach their mature pink, orange or red plumage. When we are young, our feathers are much less structured and fluffy than adult plumage, but that down provides excellent insulation to help keep our young warm.
7. There are only six species of us in the world, though several of those have subspecies divisions and could eventually be split into different unique species. We are also popular guests in many zoos, aviaries, aquariums and botanical gardens well outside native ranges.We are found around the world from the Caribbean and South America to Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
8. We are gregarious birds that do not do well in very small flocks. While a typical flock is only several dozen of us, we can fly in flocks of up to a million. We do this so as a safety measure against predators and larger flocks are more stable for population growth and breeding success. A flock of us is called a stand, colony, regiment or a flamboyance. These terms can apply to a flamingo flock of any size.
9. The most prominent threats to flamingos include predators, habitat loss and illegal poaching for decorative feathers. In some areas, humans illegally hunt us to gather eggs as food or to harvest our tongues as meat.
10. Don Featherstone of Massachusetts is the inventor of the pink plastic lawn flamingo, which has been gracing lawns since 1957. The “official” pink flamingo is from Union Products, though the patents and official molds for the classic lawn birds have been transferred to different companies. These birds are still in production today and now there are more plastic flamingos in the United States of America than there are real ones.
How did we find out about SB Overseas?
We spent some time in Lebanon in early 2017 and from Córdoba in Spain, we migrated northwards to France, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium to reach The Soutien Belge Headquarters in Brussels.
Check their route for more details.
For further interesting reading, click here.
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