The American flamingo, also known as the Caribbean flamingo, is the only species of flamingo native to North America. These flamingos live around brackish 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 adaptation Noun
a modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence. An adaptation is passed from generation to generation.
Encyclopedic Entry: adaptation anatomy Noun
structure of an organism.
animal migration Noun
process where a community of animals leaves a habitat for part of the year or part of their lives, and moves to habitats that are more hospitable.
outer boundary of a shore.
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.
area of land covered by shallow water or saturated by water.
Encyclopedic Entry: wetland