The American flamingo, also known as the Caribbean flamingo, is the only species of flamingo native to North America. These flamingos live in and around brackish water and saltwater environments, like marshes, estuaries, and coastlines.
A flamingo’s anatomy is adapted to its diet—shrimp, crustaceans, mollusks, fishes, and algae that live in shallow coastal waters. Their flexible necks, long legs, and webbed feet help flamingos stir around mud—bringing those tiny bottom-dwellers to the surface.
Adapted for short migrations in search of food, the American flamingo’s habitat stretches from the southeastern United States, through the Caribbean, and as far south as the northern coasts of South America.
The population of American flamingos is healthy; they are a species of “least concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, development of coastal lands and islands, pollution, wetland drainage, and rising sea levels are damaging the habitats on which these birds depend. Wetland loss will have many consequences—and fewer American flamingos are a possibility if the trend continues.
Flamingos filter water with their bills. Can you think of another animal that has a similar feeding adaptation?
Loss of wetland habitat directly impacts American flamingos. How does wetland loss impact people?
Flamingos are famous for sometimes standing on one leg. Can you think of a reason to explain this peculiar behavior?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry algae Plural Noun
(singular: alga) diverse group of aquatic organisms, the largest of which are seaweeds.
structure of an organism.
brackish water Noun
salty water, usually a mixture of seawater and freshwater.
outer boundary of a shore.
result or outcome of an action or situation.
type of animal (an arthropod) with a hard shell and segmented body that usually lives in the water.
foods eaten by a specific group of people or other organisms.
Encyclopedic Entry: diet environment Noun
conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.
mouth of a river where the river's current meets the sea's tide.
Encyclopedic Entry: estuary habitat Noun
environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.
Encyclopedic Entry: habitat International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Noun
environmental organization concerned with preserving natural ecosystems and habitats.
least concern Adjective
lowest level of conservation, used when the population and habitat of a species are healthy.
wetland area usually covered by a shallow layer of seawater or freshwater.
Encyclopedic Entry: marsh migration Noun
movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.
large phylum of invertebrate animal, all possessing a mantle with a significant cavity used for breathing and excretion, a radula (except for bivalves), and the structure of the nervous system.
introduction of harmful materials into the environment.
Encyclopedic Entry: pollution Red List Noun
list defining the severity and causes of each species' threat of extinction. The Red List is maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
sea level Noun
base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.
Encyclopedic Entry: sea level wetland Noun
area of land covered by shallow water or saturated by water.
Encyclopedic Entry: wetland