Animal Poachery

Oyster Flamingo Rhinoceros

Ξ Poem Flamingo Notes
© 1983..2009 by Andreas Wittenstein. Some rights reserved. (CC)

flaming rose, mauve, vermilion, pink: The characteristic fiery colors of the flamingo's skin, feathers, and egg yolk are from the carotenoid pigments in the shrimp and algae it feeds on, ranging from pink to orange.

lemon, mangrove: Flamingos are native to shallow lagoons and mudflats in the western tropics, from the Bahamas to the Galapagos. Some of their territory has been drained and planted with citrus orchards in place of mangroves and other native tropical vegetation.

flimsy legs: The stilted legs of the flamingo are among the longest of any birds, permitting them to wade in much deeper water than most other shore birds in search of food. Like other wading birds, flamingos will often stand on a single leg for hours at a stretch, even while napping. This helps them avoid detection by their prey, many of which have evolved to be suspicious of bilaterally symmetrical looming objects. Their stick-like legs also help them tolerate extremely caustic or hot water, as in the African Rift lakes.

swill: By moving their thick tongues rapidly back and forth, flamingos suck in mud and water through the front of their beaks and squirt it back out the sides several times a second.

filtered: Like dabbling ducks, flamingos have beaks lined with comb-like lamellae to filter their food out of the water and muck.

krill: The lamellae in some flamingo species are coarse, adapted to a diet of crustaceans and other small marine animals up to a few centimeters in size; in others, the lamellae are so fine as to filter out single-celled algae and other microscopic organisms.

angled bills: The flamingo feeds with its head hanging face-down at the end of its long drooping neck. The unique kink in its bill enables it to sweep the floor of a pond without dragging its face through the mud. So completely has the flamingo adapted to this upside-down lifestyle that its upper jaw is the hinged one, working against its rigid lower jaw.

flings its flapping wings: The flamingo is an awkward flier, needing to flap its wings constantly to stay aloft —unusual for a bird with its large wingspan of up to one and a half meters, but characteristic of waterfowl.

flamenco strings: In the imagination of the viewer, it's easy to associate these wild flaming birds with the romantic ardor of flamenco music. Actually, the flamingo in flight honks like a goose, but I just couldn't get that to rhyme.

For more information on flamingos, see the Wikipedia Flamingo article.

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