Physical Characteristics and Feeding Habits of Greater Flamingo - Research Paper Example

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Name of student: Course: Tutor: Introduction The name flamingo originated from the Latin word for flame (Stephens, Stephens & Kalmenoff, 1972). Flamingos are the sole member of the family Phoenicopteridae. Greater flamingos are known for their characteristic pink color, long legs, curved neck, and produce the load honking goose like sound…
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Physical Characteristics and Feeding Habits of Greater Flamingo
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Download file to see previous pages Male attain the full size at the age of one and a half to two years (Whitehouse 2003). Male greater flamingo is slightly bigger in size and therefore weighs more than their female counterparts. Greater flamingo wingspan stretches from 140 to 165cm. Coloration Greater flamingos are pink in color. Red and pink coloration of their feathers are said to be derived from carotenoids which form substantial portion of their diet. Algae and shrimps are rich in carotenoids which after synthesis give the red-pink coloration of the feathers. Flamingo metabolic system is efficient in breaking down the labile compounds found in carotenoids. The coloration for the male and female greater flamingo is same and with the young chicks displaying gray or white feather coloration after hatching. As the chicks grow, they attain grayish feather coloration. P.r.roseus legs and feet are pink-red in color (Johnson & Ce?zilly 2007). Appendages (legs, feet, neck and wings) The legs are longer than their body for mature greater flamingo with the ankle situated about half way up the leg. Their knee is located adjacent to the body and it is normally invisible from outside. Their feet have the three frontward pointing toes and one backward toe also known as hallux. Their toes are webbed to help them with swimming and stirring up food. The greater flamingo legs and feet have the same coloration (Romeu 2004). Their wing span stretches about 140-165 cm with 12 primary flight feathers positioned on either wing. Flight feathers are black in coloration and are normally visible during flight when the wings are stretched. Flamingos are known to have about 19 long cervical bones; this gives them the elongated and winding look. The morphology of the neck allows for greatest movement and twisting of the neck. The head ha eye positioned on both sides. For adult greater flamingo, the eye color is yellow while for juveniles they are white in colour for the first year of growth. Adult greater flamingo is black a black bill. The bill has a filter feeding adaptation. The upper and lower mandibles are tilted downwards just after the nostril. Greater flamingo’s upper mandible is light and acts as a cover to the lower one which is large and is like a trough. This allows them to feed on large food particles such as shrimps, brine flies and other molluscs. The exterior part of the bill has tooth-like ridges which help in filtering food particles from water. There are two rows of hair-like or comb-like structures called lamellae on both the upper and lower mandibles. When the two mandibles come together, they form mesh like structure which helps in trapping food particles. P.r.roseus’ tongue is fleshy and large with bristle to allow it filter water and food particles from the lamellae (Whitehouse 2003). Feathers The principal flight feathers are 12 and are situated on either wing. The feathers are easily distinguished from other because they are black and are easily seen during flight when the wings are fully stretched. Tail feathers range from 12 to 16 in number. Moulting of the body and wing feathers occur at irregular interval and linked to their breeding series. The greater flamingo whole body is covered by contour feathers leaving out legs and feet which help in protecting the skin from damage and also streamline the body before flight. They spend close to a quarter of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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