Pink flamingos are the national bird of Bonaire. They are known as both the American Flamingo and the Caribbean Flamingo. They are also the only flamingos that are native to America. Bonaire is one of four places that these flamingos breed. They tend to breed more in Bonaire than in other parts of the Caribbean, but they flock over to close-by Venezuela often since there is more food for them them over there.
Flamingos are big, beautiful, pink birds. They can also live to be about 40 years old. We saw so many flamingos in Bonaire, both down in the south and also at the Washington Boka Slagbaai National Park up in the northern part of the island. We don’t see flamingos here at home, unless at the zoo, so we were real excited to see them and to see so many of them. Needless to say, we were tickled pink. Sorry. I couldn’t resist. 🙂 There used to be more flamingos than people on the island, but that is changing with more people coming to live in Bonaire.
The flamingos can breed up to three times a year, but their main breeding season is from March-July. Usually only one egg is laid and both parents take care of the baby chick, which is born grayish white, until it is ready to go join the other juveniles in “pre-school”. Flamingos have the same mate for one year, then off to the next mate for another year. And so continues their mating pattern. The gestation period is between 27-31 days. It is estimated that about 1000 chicks are born each year in Bonaire. The flamingos are born white to grayish white and turn pink from their food, but there is also an occasional black flamingo seen as well.
What makes the flamingos so pink? Carotenoids give carrots their orange color or turn ripe tomatoes red. They are also found in the microscopic algae that brine shrimp eat. As a flamingo dines on algae and brine shrimp, its body metabolizes the pigments — turning its feathers pink. Flamingos – both male and female – can lose their pink pigments outside of breeding season. That’s because the breeding is so intensive and so much of their food is used for their chicks. During this time their white color basically means “Please leave me alone. Don’t bother me”.
Do you know what a group of flamingos is called? It’s called a flamboyance. The name flamingo means fire and brilliance. The word “flamingo” comes from the Latin and Spanish for “fire” referring of course to their bright pink feathers.
So when in Bonaire, keep your eyes open for these big, beautiful pink birds. They can be seen most everywhere on the island and are the official island bird. You too will be tickled pink. 🙂
Stay pink and stay cool and stay safe and well Everyone. ‘Til next time.