Are There Flamingos in America?

By Betty Lewis

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Flamingos are birds who prefer tropical and subtropical regions. There are six species of these distinctive birds worldwide, varying in size and coloring. These are social birds, tending to stay in very large flocks, regardless of where they call home. In fact, colonies in tens of thousands are normal.

Flamingos in the US

Unless you come across them in captivity, chances are you won't find too many flamingos in the US. Phoenicopterus ruber, otherwise known as the Caribbean flamingo, American flamingo, Cuban flamingo or pink flamingo, is the only species of flamingo native to the US. If you want to see this bird in its natural habitat, you should probably focus your search to southern Florida, although he is occasionally spotted in warmer southern and gulf coast states. This guy is also found throughout the Caribbean, the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and the northern coast of South America. The Galapagos Islands are also home to a small population of the birds.

Pinkest of the Pink

The American flamingo is the most vibrantly pink of all the flamingos, and it's the only one that doesn't share its range with other species. These flamingos are around four feet tall, with a wingspan of about five feet. Their bright plumage makes them quite recognizable and their bills are pink and white, tipped with black. Though they're sociable with each other, they're skittish birds and will take flight when disturbed. Salt marshes and mudflats make great sources of nourishment, providing them small shrimp, mollusks, algae, seeds and microscopic organisms.

South American Flamingos

Unless you're at the zoo, you won't find other flamingos in the US, but South America is home to several other species of flamingos. Chilean flamingos can be found in central Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Peru and southern Brazil. Both coasts of South America are also popular for these medium-sized, pale pink birds during the winter. They share their range with Andean flamingos, in parts of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. The Andean flamingo is the largest species in South America and is known for his yellow legs. The James flamingo's range is the most restricted of all the flamingo species, found in parts of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. These little fellows are pale pink with a distinctive yellow bill.

Across the Atlantic

The greater flamingo covers a lot of ground. The palest and largest of all flamingo species, he can be discovered in the Middle East, northwest India, Africa and western Mediterranean. Smaller groups can also be seen throughout northern Europe. The lesser flamingo is confined to Africa as a rule, although there is a population of them in India and once in a while, a few will wander towards southern Spain. Small in size, but many in number, this is the most populous of all species, estimated to be two and three million throughout their worldwide range.

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