What’s pink, has a neck longer than its body, and likes to stand on one leg? The newest residents of Caribbean Journey.
Caribbean flamingoes have now arrived to get settled into their new home at Caribbean Journey. Each flamingo is less than a year old and is just beginning to grow in the vibrant red and pink plumage their species is famous for. The group, which can be known as a flock, a colony, or a “pat,” consists of both male and female flamingos. Each stands about 4 feet tall, with a large hooked white beak, stilt-like legs with webbed feet, and long flexible neck.
These peculiar features not only make the flamingo one of the world’s most recognizable birds, they play an important part in how they forage for food. In their native habitats of Caribbean lagoons, mudflats, and other shallow water environments, flamingos will stamp their long legs to stir up the bottom of a water bed and bring up their diet of algae, crustaceans, and brine shrimp. The invertebrates in its meals are rich in pigments called carotenoids, which give the flamingo its characteristic rosy color. Their beak contains lamellae, a textured surface that helps them filter out their food from the water. When feeding, a flamingo will crane its neck so that its head is upside-down and sweep it back and forth to extract its food out of the water. It may even hold its breath and submerge its entire head under water to get a tasty meal below the surface. When they want to rest, a flamingo may adopt its well-known pose of standing on one leg. This not only helps the flamingo conserve energy, it can assist in maintaining their body temperature since they’re removing one foot from water and tucking it close to their body.
These flamingos are your Caribbean Journey welcoming party, being one of the first animals you see in the jungle exhibit. Their bright feathers, gangly features, and upside-down eating habits bring color, sound, and unique character to Caribbean Journey, delighting our guests and making the space come alive.