What do flamingos eat?

Flamingos are a type of gregarious bird, which can live in populations consisting of thousands of individuals. They inhabit from sea level to 4000 or 5000 m.a.s.l., and specifically are found in ecosystems made up of shallow waters belonging to marshes, brackish lakes, lagoons, wetlands and coastal areas..

These animals belong to the Phoenicopteridae family, which is made up of two genera: Phoenicoparrus (small flamingos) and Phoenicopterus (larger flamingos), each with three different species. Flamingos require large areas to fully develop, they are capable of flying long distances and each genus has particular ways of feeding. In this AnimalWised article, we'll explain what do flamingos eat, so we invite you to continue reading.

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  1. Are flamingos omnivores?
  2. Flamingo diet
  3. How do baby flamingos feed?
  4. Other curiosities of flamingos and their diet
  5. Conservation status of the flamingo

Are flamingos omnivores?

Yes, flamingos are omnivores, since in their diet they include diverse species of animals, vegetables and algae. As in all living beings, the feeding of flamingos is fundamental and there are some aspects related to their nutrition that are relevant to highlight:

  • The mainly pink coloration of adult flamingos is the product of the metabolism of the carotenoid pigments that are present in the crustaceans they consume, as we explained in ¿Why flamingos are pink?
  • Newborn flamingos lack this pink coloration, they acquire it as they shed their feathers during their growth, as long as they have the appropriate diet..
  • The coloration in flamingos is a indicative of your state of health, so when we see adult birds without coloration, this usually has to do with a poor feeding of the animal.
  • Males with more intense colors (product of an adequate diet) are preferred by females at the time of reproduction..
  • Studies have shown a high mortality of flamingos (as well as other birds) due to poisoning caused by consume lead, which is present in the pellets that are used for the atrocious practice of hunting birds that inhabit aquatic areas and that end up at the bottom of the water, where these animals look for their food.

For more information, you can consult this other article on Omnivorous Animals - More than 40 examples and curiosities.

Flamingo diet

Flamingos are called filter birds, so that thanks to the shape of their beak and the presence of specialized structures in the jaw, they have the ability to filter sludge that is formed in water, and in which its food is found. The genus Phoenicoparrus has a longer beak specialized in capturing small prey, while the flamingos of the genus Phoenicopterus have a beak adapted to the consumption of larger prey. For more information, see this other article on Types of bird beaks.

Depending on the species and habitat, flamingos consume one or the other food. Here is a general list of flamingo food:

  • Shrimp.
  • Mollusks.
  • Annelids.
  • Aquatic insect larvae.
  • Small fish.
  • Water beetles.
  • Ants.
  • Grass seeds or branched stems.
  • Diatoms.
  • Some types of decomposing leaves.
  • Small amounts of sludge to consume bacteria.
  • Cyanobacteria.
  • Rotifers.

How do baby flamingos feed?

Baby flamingos cannot feed as adults do, since their beaks are still immature, but in addition their skeletal, muscular and neurological systems are also limited to be able to capture and filter food, so they need time for this development. and learn the process.

In this situation, adult flamingos, both females and males, feed the babies through a kind of milk they produce (not really a dairy product) through specialized glands in the upper epithelial tissue of the digestive tract. This substance is then regurgitated and given to babies. This "crop milk " is a compound high in fats, proteins and substances that strengthen the immune system of newborns.

Other curiosities of flamingos and their diet

Because some species of flamingos inhabit bodies of water that freeze during winter, which undoubtedly restricts the availability of food., must migrate to other areas where they can feed and reproduce. Therefore, they are considered migratory birds.

Also their behavioral patterns related to eating can be modified by the meteorological conditions. Thus, in the presence of lower temperatures they dedicate more hours to rest to reduce energy expenditure.

Changes in the water level, which in turn influence the availability of food, also manage to originate mobility of these animals to areas with more presence of options to feed themselves.

Conservation status of the flamingo

Flamingos are animals susceptible to water contamination, because it directly affects your diet, and also by climate change, because it modifies the temperatures of the water and its depths, which has repercussions on the species that these animals feed on. Additionally, direct disturbances to the habitat by tourism or construction affect these birds in the same way. Of the six varieties, the Andean flamenco (Phoenicoparrus andinus) is the most threatened, being cataloged on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable, mainly due to the exploitation of the habitat, which has considerably reduced their populations.

It is also important to mention that flamingos are not domestic animals, they are wild, therefore should not be held in captivity, This would undoubtedly lead to important nutritional deficiencies, since as we have shown, they require species that inhabit natural ecosystems to stay healthy..

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