The family Phoenicopteridae includes 1 species found in North America.
Flamingos occur in Africa, southern Asia, the Andes of South America, Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, West Indies and the Galapagos Islands. They are highly social, feeding in groups and nesting in colonies. They usually inhabit shallow soda lakes and salt lagoons with an alkaline pH (up to 10.5), in barren country often surrounded by desert.
Flamingos have long legs, long necks, webbed feet and a bill that is bent in the middle. Plumage colors change with age, but are mainly rosy pink, red and white with black flight feathers.
The feeding method of flamingos is unique among birds and has been likened to that of whalebone whales because of the straining of water and solids through the lamellae. The head is lowered to the water with the bent bill held upside down and the bill and head submerged. In the smaller species the head is swept from side to side, taking in algae, diatoms and other small organisms. The larger species take mud and water into the bill as they feed on algae, diatoms, small crustaceans, mollusks and insect larvae. The fleshy, spinous tongue moves rapidly like a piston inside the bill, squeezing the mud and water out through the lamellations which retain the edible portions.
Nesting is in colonies often of several thousand pairs and seldom in groups smaller than 10 pairs. In shallow water the nests are built of stones and mud picked up by both sexes within reach of the nest site and placed beneath their bodies to form a circular pile with a shallow depression on top. Nest mounds may be 30 cm high and separated from one another by approximately twice the length of the neck. Nests situated on islands are constructed of stones, feathers and debris. Clutch size is usually 1 white egg with a chalky surface. Incubation is by both adults for 27-36 days. The hatchling is covered with short, wooly down, ash-gray with white below and has a straight, pink bill and pink legs, both of which turn black in a few days. The nestling is fed by regurgitation of a secretion from glands in the adult's crop. Chicks remain in the nest for 5-8 days, and can feed themselves when 4-6 weeks of age, varying with the species. Most birds are in the adult plumage by age 2 and some may breed when 3 years old, but many may not nest until older. Longevity is probably 25-60 years.
Flamingos - Patuxent Bird ID Center