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The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber, flamenco) receives its characteristic pink color from the carotinoid (carotene) pigments consumed in its diet of crustaceans and shrimp larvae. Legs are gray or flesh-colored; feet are webbed for swimming; primary feathers are black; and bills are pink with a black tip. Young flamingos are pale white until about three months, when they find food and become a richer pink color.

This species of flamingo is thought to have arrived from the Bahamas during a one-time strange and intense tropical storm. Since they did not have the flying capacity to return, they made their homes in the brackish water (a mix of salt and fresh water) lagoons of the archipelago.

Around July and August, the male flamingoes perform their courting ritual: they join in fixed lines, moving and swaying together in a sensual, flamenco-like dance. Monogamous pairs will lay their eggs in cone-shaped, mud nests nearly 25 cm high, which have a 28-day incubation period before hatching in September and October. Chicks are born with a straight bill, but it starts to curve after about three weeks.

There are currently about 500-600 flamingoes (which can live up to 20-30 years) on the various islands. They are most commonly found at Punta Cormorant (Floreana), Puerto Villamil (Isabela) and Las Bachas Beach (Santa Cruz).

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Recommended Reading List, Zebra Moray Eel, Shore Birds - Galapagos, More Isabela Visitor Sites, Punta Suarez, The Waved Albatross, Lava Lizard, Going to Galapagos: the Quito Airport and King Angelfish.

13 Mar 2009

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