11 facts you never knew about flamingos

  • 18 August 2017
Flamingo Image copyright Getty Images

An extremely cute baby flamingo called Squish has been taken for a walk at Jurong Bird Park in Singapore.

Squish is only just over two months old and weighs just 1.6kg.

Animal care officer Gerard Wan says: "We bring him (for) walks because he needs the UV light to process the calcium to strengthen his bones, and also to strengthen his muscles because he's now starting to walk."

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These flamingo boots were made for walkin'!

The ground outside is hard concrete, which is not what Squish would be used to in the wild - that is, the cool, wet mudflats of South Africa - so he wears the boots to protect his feet from this surface.

Read on to find out more about these amazing animals.

1. Have you ever heard the expression "you are what you eat"? Well, flamingos are just that. They get their reddish-pink colour from special colouring chemicals called pigments found in the algae and invertebrates that they eat.

However, there was an amazing black flamingo spotted in Cyprus! It is thought it had a condition which affected the colour of its plumage.

Image copyright Marinos Meletiou; Reuters; In National Geographic
Image caption This extremely rare black flamingo was spotted in Cyprus

2. Greater flamingos are the tallest species of flamingo. They have paler feathers and pink bills.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption You can see the paler feathers of the greater flamingos in this picture

3. Lesser flamingos are the smallest and most common. They live mostly in Africa, but can be found as far from here as Spain and Afghanistan.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lesser flamingos in flight

4. Groups of flamingos are called colonies or flocks.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption This colony of flamingos looks pretty chilled out!

5. They live for quite a long time - about 20 to 30 years in the wild, or up to 50 years if they are in a zoo. One greater flamingo at a zoo in Australia lived to be 83!

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Greater the flamingo, who was named after the name of the species, arrived at the Adelaide Zoo in 1933

6. Flamingos are filter feeders. This means that they take up water in their beaks and sieve out tiny brine shrimps from the water with their special beaks and tongue.

Image copyright Getty Images

7. Even though it looks like they can, flamingos cannot bend their knee backwards! What you're actually looking at is their ankles. They're just a lot higher up their leg than you might expect.

Image copyright Getty Images

8. It uses less energy for a flamingo to stand on one leg than on two legs, which is why they can perform such an amazing balancing act when having a snooze!

Image copyright Getty Images

9. Most flamingos prefer to rest their head to the right. The ones that prefer to rest their heads on the other side are more likely to be involved in violent clashes with other birds.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption These flamingos in a park in Hong Kong are just taking a break

10. The word 'flamingo' comes from the Latin word 'flamenco' which means fire, and refers to the bright colour of the birds' feathers.

Image copyright Getty Images

11. Baby flamingos aren't actually pink! They are grey or white, and turn pink over the first couple of years of their lives.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption How sweet is this lesser flamingo chick?!

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