A. Social structure.
1. Flamingos are very social birds. Breeding colonies of a few individual flamingos are rare, while colonies of tens of thousands of birds are common.
2. In zoological parks, flock size ranges from 2 to 340 birds with an average of 71 birds.
B. Social behavior.
1. Flamingos devote considerable time to collective displays before, during, and after breeding.
2. Several hundred to several thousand flamingos are all involved simultaneously with ritualized postures and movements to synchronize breeding.
3. Sometimes only one display is performed, but more often, a predictable sequence of displays are carried out: head-flag, wing-salute, and twist-preen.
a. Head-flag involves stretching the neck and head up as high as possible with the bill pointing upwards, and then rhythmically turning the head from one side to the other.
Flamingos communicate through a range of visual
displays, including the "head-flag".
b. Wing-salute is performed by spreading the wings for a few seconds, showing their strikingly contrasted colors, while the tail is cocked and neck outstretched.
c. Twist-preen entails the bird twisting its neck back and appearing to preen quickly, with its bill behind a partly open wing.
C. Individual behavior.
1. Flamingos spend most of the day feeding, preening (using the bill to distribute oil from a gland at the base of their tail to their feathers for waterproofing), resting, and bathing.
2. Breeding birds feed day or night. Non-breeding birds feed at night and spend the day sleeping or involved in comfort activities, such as bathing.
3. Flamingos spend about 15% to 30% of their time during the day preening. This is a large percentage compared to waterfowl, which preen only about 10% of the time. Flamingos preen with their bills. An oil gland near the base of the tail secretes oil that the flamingo distributes throughout its feathers.
4. Flamingos swim readily and bathe in shallow fresh water submerging the whole body.
D. Interaction with other species.
Two or more species of flamingos can coexist in the same area at the same time.
Scientific Classification|Habitat and Distribution|Physical Characteristics|Senses|Adaptations for Their Enviornment|Behavior|Diet and Eating Habits|Reproduction|Hatching and Care of Young|Communication|Longevity and Causes of Death|Conservation|Bibliography|Books for Young Readers
©2002 SeaWorld, Inc. An Anheuser-Busch Theme Park. All Rights Reserved.
Permission is granted by SeaWorld for classroom teachers to make reprographic copies of worksheets for noncommercial use. This permission does not extend to copying for promotional purposes, creating new collective works, or resale. For more information, write or call the SeaWorld Education Department.