Pink, fluffy feathers, a curvy neck and a slender pair of legs even supermodels would die for. Flamingos are a truly unique species. And the birds’ physical appearance is by no means the only feature that distinguishes these beautiful creatures from their peers.
Annelies from Makakatana Bay Lodge, situated in Lake St. Lucia, South Africa, explains that flamingos have adopted a method of filter-feeding, where a specialised kinked bill is held upside down. The thick tongue is used to ‘pump’ water in and out through filtering hooks (lamellae) along the sides of the bill, which is similar to baleen whales.
Flamingos feed primarily by wading but they can also swim and filter-feed in deep water, just like baleen whales. Flamingo’s plumage becomes more pnk in colour when breeding due to the carotenoid pigments they digest from their food.
The two species, greater and lesser flamingo, avoid direct competition by having different diets. The lesser flamingo is a specialist in fine algae which they can find in the middle to-upper layers of the water. Greater flamingos, on the other hand, use foot-trembling to disturb bottom sediments and generally feed on larger prey such as shrimps, crabs and brine flies.
One of the best places to meet the flamingos is in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, World Heritage Site, located on the eastren shores of South Africa.
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