These birds stand up to 150cm high with rosy pink feathers. Flamingos are gregarious birds, living in groups called flocks or 'stands' numbering from a few individuals to tens of thousands in the wild! Whether feeding or nesting they remain closely packed together. Pairs are monogamous, meaning they stay together for the breeding season, and sometimes for their whole lives.
Flamingos eat algae and tiny animals such as shrimps, molluscs and insect larvae which live in the water of shallow pools. Flamingo feathers are rosy pink due to coloured pigments in the tiny shrimps on which they feed.
Here at the Zoo, they are fed special food that contains these natural pigments to ensure that their feathers are coloured.
In the wild, flamingos can be found in wetland habitats; coastal lagoons, mud flats and inland at large shallow lakes. They build their nests from mud, with the male and female working together.
Greater flamingos have a strong presence in the wild and are currently not under threat.
Flamingos visit the Camargue in Southern France in their thousands to breed every year, along with other bird species such as terns, avocets and purple herons. The area is a National Park, although less than a third is strictly protected. The rest is leased to farmers. Demand for agricultural land by ever-increasing human populations puts pressure on the vital wetlands which are depended upon by a huge variety of species, including these flamingos.
Flamingos' beaks function in a similar way to the mouths of filter-feeding whales - they strain water through their beaks, catching the food in complex rows of specialised horny plates. Sometimes they can be seen stamping their feet to stir up food from the muddy bottom of a pool.
Bristol Zoo's flamingo breeding season runs from April to July. Guests may see the parents sitting on a single egg on their conical nest mound, or feeding their fuzzy grey chicks.
You can find our greater flamingos opposite the Main Entrance, at the start of the Top Terrace
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