Phoenicopteri

Phoenicopteri

 

(flamingos), an order of birds. (Flamingos are often classified as a suborder of the order Ciconiiformes.) The body length is 91–120 cm. The bill is large and abruptly bent; the margins of the jaw have horny plates, enabling the birds to strain seeds, diatomaceous and blue-green algae, crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects out of the water or mud. The legs and neck are very long. The birds are able to stand in deep water to feed; if necessary, they can swim, since their feet are webbed. The plumage is white with a rosy tinge that is especially vivid on the wings; the wing quills are black.

There are six species of flamingos, distributed in Southwestern Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, South America, Central America, and southern parts of North America. Flamingos are gregarious birds, nesting in shallows along seas and salt lakes in colonies of sometimes tens of thousands of individuals. The USSR has one species—the common flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)—which nests on the northeastern shores of the Caspian Sea and on the salt lakes of central Kazakhstan. The birds winter on the southern Caspian, dying in large numbers during severe winters.

Flamingos usually build cone-shaped nests of mud or sand; the nests measure 10–60 cm in height. The nesting sites are usually hard-to-reach swampy solonchaks. Only infrequently are the eggs laid directly on the sand. A clutch contains one or two eggs (less commonly, three), which are incubated by both the male and the female for 30 to 32 days. During the first two weeks of life, the fledglings are fed by regurgitation of food by the parents; later the young birds feed independently.

REFERENCES

Dolgushin. I. A. Ptitsy Kazakhstana, vol. 1. Alma-Ata, 1960.

A. I. IVANOV

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Catalogue of the Chenomorphae (Palamedeae, Phoenicopteri, Anseres), Crypturi and Ratitae in the collection of the British Museum, Longmans, London, England.