I had been spending a few days observing these graceful long legged birds, the Caribbean Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber in Singapore. They have the brightest plumage of all the flamingo species but are not born with their beautiful pink plumage. Their color comes from the carotenoid pigments they consume as part of their diet.
When I was a kid, I used to see the vast pink sea of flocks of flamingos that congregated on the shores of Lake Manyara in Tanzania. The flamingos there were of a lighter pink color with touches of white.
The flamingos are ancient birds of the Miocene period, which means they were around 20 million years ago! They fly in formation and make noises like geese and hence the Portuguese term ‘flamingo’ or ‘red goose’.
A unique part is their beaks that has a sieve like structure that serves as a trapdoor for food such as algae, diatoms and aquatic invertebrates. The flamingos are known to preen their feathers all day long.
In Singapore, I kept shooting their exciting synchronicity of dance, as pinks blurred into pinks, in rhythm with their honks. As I got nearer, I was warned with the chorus of hurried honks that was actually an expression of fear. I immediately backed off!