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American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) Fact Sheet, 2003   Tags: bird, caribbean, fact sheet, flamingo, nest, safari park, san diego zoo  

Last Updated: Nov 9, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) Fact Sheet, 2003

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All Rights Reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Phoenicopteriformes

Family: Phoenicopteridae

Genus: Phoenicopterus

Species: P. ruber

Body Weight:
Males: 2.8 kg (6.1 lbs);
Females: 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs).

Wing Span:
Males 401-425 mm (15.8-16.7 in);
Females: 370-408 mm (14.6-16.0 in).

Plumage: Bright orange/pink; rump, head, neck, wing coverts slightly darker; black flight feathers.

Beak: Sharply downcurved; lower bill thicker; numerous keratinous plates serve as filter feeding mechanism.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: N. Caribbean (Cuba, Hispaniola, Bahamas); S. Caribbean Yukatan, N. coast of South America from Colombia to French Guiana, Venezuelan islands, Bonaire); Yucatan peninsula, Galapagos islands.

Habitat: saline lagoons; muddy, shallow lakes.

IUCN Status: Least Concern ver 3.1

CITES Appendix: Appendix II

Population in Wild: approximately 260,000-330,000

Migration: Generally non-migratory. Those that do, migrate between summer breeding grounds and winter feeding grounds.

Activity Cycle: Feeding, preening, resting, courtship; feeding is highest right before mating season.

Social Groups: Huge colonies; must be in large groups to breed.

Diet: Filter invertebrates, algae, and plant material out of shallow water and mud.

Predators: Racoons, marguay, jaguar, humans, birds of prey.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: 3-6 years

Courtship: Group breeding displays lead to synchronous breeding; monogamous pairing for several seasons.

Clutch Size: 1 egg

Nest: Cone-shaped mound of mud with scooped-out top; shallow moat excavated around nest.

Hatchlings: Leave nest after 5-8 days; form creches (large numbers of chicks cared for by a smal number or adults).

Fledglings: 9-13 weeks

Longevity: Unknown in the wild; have lived 40-60 years in captivity.

Feature Facts: Oldest cave painting of flamingo dated at 5000 BC, from Spain. Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of flamingo denotes the color red. Historically confused with the legendary Phoenix. The tongue was considered a delicacy in Roman times.

San Diego Zoo Global: 1932: San Diego Zoo obtains first Caribbean flamingos; 1957: First Caribbean flamingo hatches at the zoo; April 2003: newly renovated Flamingo Lagoon opens; flamingos start building nest within 3 days.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2003-2016 San Diego Zoo Global. Updated 2015. Tanonomy update 2016.

How to cite: Caribbean Flamingo (Pheonicopterus ruber) Fact Sheet, 2003. c2003-2016. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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