Flamant de Cuba ou Flamant des Caraïbes

Phoenicopterus ruber

Weight:

2 to 4 kg (5 to 9.5 lbs)

Size:

120 to 145 cm
Birds
Piscivore
Oceans and seas
Rivers, swamps, marshes and lakes
Central America and Caribbean

Interesting facts

The word "flamingo" comes from the Provençal flamen, a terms that evokes the red color of the plumage, reminiscent of flames. 

Conservation

Least concern

There are 6 species of flamingos that are distinguished by the color of their plumage, their beaks, their eyes and the shape of their beaks. The Caribbean flamingo has a beak with a white base, a coral centre and a black tip.

Environment and behavior

The Caribbean flamingo is a gregarious bird. It lives and nests in large colonies. Its main activities are eating, grooming and resting. Communication within the colony is achieved through ritualized cries and gestures.  Before and during breeding season, the whole group performs several types of perfectly synchronized courtship displays, composed of movements and different postures. Caribbean flamingos form long-term relationships with their partner. Mating occurs when the couple has left the colony. Some courtship displays are performed before mating, but they are less spectacular than the group displays. Nesting usually occurs at the edge of a wetland. The male and female overlap mud and plant debris to make their nest. The nest, which is usually 40 to 50 cm from the ground, has a conical shape with a receptacle at the top, to collect the only egg that will be laid. Each parent takes turns sitting on the egg for 1 to 24 hours, depending on the distance from the feeding areas. Incubation takes 27 to 31 days. At birth, the chick is covered with white down. Its beak is perfectly straight.  Its legs and beak are black. Parents feed their chicks, either by regurgitating crop milk or by dropping food directly into their beaks. The chick is protected for 5 to 12 days, between the wing and body of the adult, often revealing its little head. It leaves the nest when it is able to walk and swim.  It then joins a nursery with hundreds or thousands of other chicks monitored by a few adults. Chicks are capable of feeding themselves starting from the age of 4 to 6 weeks.  Parents still feed their young until their plumage appears, about 10 to 12 weeks after birth, when their beaks finally become curved and able to filter food. It will take several years for chicks to develop their full adult plumage.

Threats

After a significant decline in 1956, Caribbean flamingo populations have increased and appear stable today.  However, this bird, with its low reproductive rate, has been affected by urbanization, lead poisoning, hurricanes and increased tourism. This bird is very timid and flies off as soon as it is disturbed.