A Moment of Science

Lifestyles Of The Pink And Feathered

On today's episode, we take a glimpse into the complex social lives of flamingos.

Two flamingos stand in the water facing each other

Photo: Omar Bariffi (flickr)

Some flamingo pairs actually steal eggs from other couples.

That’s right! Today we’re talking about flamingoes. You’ve probably seen them preening at your local zoo, but did you know what intrigue-filled lives our pink-plumed pals lead in captivity?

Flamingo Monogamy

You may have already suspected that flamingoes are very social, preferring to hang around and nest in large groups. Still, within the group, flamingoes form pairs that feed and protect each other. These pairs are usually monogamous and sometimes stay together through several breeding seasons.

While the majority of these couplings are between males and females, some flamingoes prefer to mate with partners of the same sex.

Crop Milk

If they manage to lay or acquire eggs, some same-sex flamingoes turn to parenting. If they don’t, they abandon the nest.

Regardless of the sex of the flamingo pair, the partners take turns incubating the eggs, and then, when the eggs hatch, they take turns nursing the offspring with crop milk, a blood-red liquid.

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