Biodiversity Birds

The Most Charismatic and Recognizable Bird-Flamingo

Written by Rabiyah

Sitting on the beach, having a vast coast line in front of you with beautiful birds playing and giggling together, a calm evening with rolling clouds and sea breeze soothing you up; that’s all enough, Nature’s peace is following you and giving you the chance to purify your mind.

I am not talking about William Wordsworth’s sonnet or about seaside beach in any European country, but yes! It’s about our motherland, our Pakistani coastline, extending 1050 km along the Arabian Sea; more underdeveloped but more beautiful, purely natural, having fresh air to breathe in and the reason which can make us wonder is the presence of beautiful birds, the Flamingoes! The mesmerizing sight of a flock of pale pink and white flamingoes gliding through shallow water, is no longer as common as it was once. Nevertheless, these fascinating birds are, luckily, still with us.

Have you ever seen Flamingoes commonly called “laal lam tangu” in our National language Urdu (meaning: Red long legged) or you know this bird? If not in real, you all must have seen this beautiful bird as a lawn ornament, in a pink marble statue.

Flamingoes (a member of avian family Phoenicopteridae) are beautiful birds with thin long legs, extended curved neck and luxuriant deep red, light red and pink plumage; glorious feathers. It is very shocking to know that the feathers are not pink at first. Chicks hatch with white feathers that soon turn grey and far ahead take their pink color from aqueous bacteria and beta-carotene obtained from their food. With its hooked and curved beak, it sieves water to collect tiny pieces of food such as small crustaceans, mollusks, insects as well as aquatic vegetation, the algae. Generally, adult flamingo’s height is 2.5 to 5.5 feet and it weighs four to seven pounds, depending on species. Females are usually shorter and weigh less than males.

There are 6 species of flamingoes existing worldwide but only 2 species which occur in Pakistan are Greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) and Lesser flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor).Two-lesser-flamingos-feeding

Lesser Flamingoes

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

95581407.jGmtqWUH._MG_0855GreaterFlamingoGreater Flamingoes

Greater Flamingo is the most widespread, largest of the flamingoes with deep pink wings and you can see them from the Salt Range of Punjab all the way down the Rann of Kutch, in various places in Sindh and Baluchistan and along the Sindh, Makran and Baluchistan coastline of Pakistan.

It is the tallest flamingo, standing 120 to 150 cm (47-59 in.), weighing up to 3.5 kg and wingspan ranging from 140 to 165 cm. Feather coloration derived from carotenoid pigments found in a flamingo’s food is usually reddish pink with male and female having the same plumage. However, newly hatched chicks are gray or white. They usually lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound.

One of most interesting phenomenon expressed by this bird is that when flamingos are resting, they sit down with their legs tucked beneath them or rest standing on one leg. This adaptation of curling a leg under the body keeps the foot warm and conserves body heat. They happily live in water having high salt concentration. Flamingoes breed in a large flock as they feel safe and their hormones synchronize. They usually begin to breed at about six years of age with strong pair bonding phenomenon and group mating dances.

Flamingo Meat – a delicacy

Flamingo meat is very unique in flavor. It is usually soaked in fresh goat milk for at least two to three days to remove the oil from the meat. Boiled flamingo was reported to be a delicacy of the ancient Roman aristocracy. Specifically, roasted flamingo tongue was a prized delicacy in ancient Rome, a dish served only in the presence of the emperor.

Flamingo Conservation

As flamingoes live in isolated habitats, so the largest predator of this animal is Human. Throughout the history they have been hunted either for their delicious tongues or because of their beautiful plumage. This is unfortunate, because I think just to get the taste, killing a beautiful bird is totally insane. Rather, sight of a flock of pink, rose, or crimson flamingos standing together or flying in the sun is more beautiful and spellbinding.

In U.S, flamingoes are sold with the price of $4,999.99 for meat but in India it is just sold for Rs.1000. If there is a wedding, the local people serve the guests with flamingo’s meat. In Pakistan, usually they are trapped and sold out as a gift to the land lords. It has been reported that Rann of Kutch, salt marsh of India and Pakistan is breeding area for greater flamingoes. Thus, many greater flamingoes occasionally electrocuted when they sit on 1000-watt electric cables.

Threats to wild populations of the six flamingo species include disturbance, habitat loss, mining, egg collection, water extraction and pollution. Flamingo conservation is vital to ensure the existence and survival of entire breed not just to save them from endangerment, but also to keep them from becoming endangered or threatened in Pakistan. A proper migratory bird act government level should be designed to take a steps to clean up the area, save and protect the flamingoes and reduce the poacher’s threat and illegal hunting. Breeding in captivity ensures the survival of the breed because it takes away the threat of drought, famine and predators so measurements should be taken for captivated breeding of Flamingoes.

References:

  • http://tribune.com.pk/story/710055/flamingoes-in-pakistan/
  • http://animalia-life.com/flamingo.html
  • http://www.exoticmeatmarkets.com/flamingomeat.html
  • http://seaworld.org/en/animal-info/animal-infobooks/flamingos/conservation-and-research/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_flamingo
  • http://www.dawn.com/news/691220/wildlife-fanciful-flamingoes

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About the author

Rabiyah

I am Rabiyah from Islamabad. I have recently completed my Msc and M.phil in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from Quaid I Azam University, Islamabad. Field of specialization in M.phil was Human Molecular Genetics. I always find a very keen interest in reading and writings like stories, articles, and columns on various social and emerging issues.