The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds.

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

Of all the birds The Flamingo is certainly the most fashionable, Colorful and glamorous, with an elegant line, but also a bit clumsy on its very long legs.

It is one of the most striking species of the animal kingdom, its color and its original behavior have given rise to fairy tales and legends. From cinema to contemporary design, everyone is crazy about the flamingo and there are those who call it "Flamingo mania", but few know the many curiosities of this beautiful species that still has a lot to teach us. The Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is a typically Mediterranean species, but has only been breeding in Italy for a few years.

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In 1993 the first flamingo colony was sighted in Sardinia in the Montelargius salt flats area. The following year another colony settled in the Marshes of Orbetello, in Tuscany. The flamingo loves to move and travel a lot, even several times during the same migratory season. Only in recent years has the ringing allowed our scientists to get a better idea of the great movements of this splendid migrator.

The flamingo's nest:

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

The flamingo builds a very simple nest, a mound of mud that rises from the ground and that right on the top has a depression to accommodate the eggs. A very particular shape, a truncated cone that reminds many of the Sardinian “Nuraghe”, a region where the species nests with thousands of couples. If mud is not available, sometimes the nest can be built with debris. The nest is often lined with blades of grass, small branches or feathers. The flamingo egg is shaped like a large orange and is hatched by both parents for about a month before hatching.

The myth of the phoenix:

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

The flamingo is a migrant that in its long journey can reach different continents, from Europe where it lives all year round to Africa to reach Asia. The migration of the flamingo is often not regular, in fact it can happen that a colony disappears from a place and then returns to visit it only several years later.

This behavior may have contributed to the mythical birth of the Phoenix, the legendary bird that, after living for five centuries, let itself be burned on a nest of aromatic herbs and then rose from its ashes.

Phoenix or not the Flamingo is a very long-lived species that never ceases to surprise scientists. In 2017 a ringed flamingo was sighted in the Priolo Saline Reserve in 1979. Amelie, as it was renamed, was born about 40 years ago in France and starting from her sightings it was possible to reconstruct the journey of her long life through Sardinia. Tunisia and Spain.

But why are flamingos pink?

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

It's all the shrimp's fault. The color of flamingo feathers is due to carotenoids, organic pigments found in many molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic insects such as Artemia salina, a tiny shrimp flamingos are fond of. The more a flamingo eats these shrimps, the more its plumage becomes a deeper pink. In fact, flamingos bred in captivity lose their characteristic color and turn white. For the same reason, the young in the first months of life are white, having not yet "absorbed" the colored pigment.

The flamingo's beak:

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

Have you ever wondered why the flamingo's beak is curved downwards? Unlike what is commonly thought, the flamingo's beak is not used to grasp the prey, but (as also happens for whales) it is a sophisticated filter that through special lamellae lets the water out, trapping the microorganisms it feeds the animal.

A spectacular run-up:

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

The flamingo gathers in groups in the wetlands where it hunts and nests. Seeing a flamingo colony is always a breathtaking sight. One of the funniest moments when watching a flamingo is its long run before taking flight. The flamingo, like a somewhat clumsy dancer, takes a run by stretching its neck and, for a few moments, even seems to walk on the water before finally opening its wings and rising into the air.

A flamingo in the garden:

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

The flamingo, thanks to its flashy color and its very recognizable and chic silhouette, is one of the absolute symbols of American pop culture. In 1956 the sculptor and designer Donald Featherstone, impressed by a photo of flamingos on National Geographic, created the "pink flamingo", a plastic garden statue that was a mass success and in a short time appeared in the gardens of half of America. The "pink flamingo" has become a real object of modern art, collected and exhibited in museums, it has also appeared in hundreds of Hollywood films, commercials and music videos.

The most famous flamingos in the world of fairy tales are certainly those of Lewis Carroll. In Alice in Wonderland the protagonist is involved in an absurd croquet tournament organized by the Queen of Hearts, in which flamingos and hedgehogs are part of the game.

We protect the flamingo's nest:

The Flamingo: The Most Fashionable Birds

Today in Italy the flamingo is present in Sicily, Tuscany, Puglia, Sardinia and in the Comacchio Valleys. A few kilometers from the most popular beaches of our country there is always an area where the flamingo lives. But why is it so important to protect it? The flamingo is the symbolic animal of one of the most precious habitats of our country, that of wetlands. Wetlands such as lagoons, lakes, swamps, marshes and ponds are true paradises for biodiversity and are home to hundreds of species of amphibians, mammals, reptiles, birds and other animals. A delicate ecosystem in which each guest is essential to the survival of the others. This is why wetlands are protected by the European "Habitat" and "Birds" Directives and by the Natura 2000 Network. Protecting biodiversity is important.

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