| Flamingos are the most instantly recognizable wading birds in the world, but what makes them so special that they capture the hearts of birders and non-birders alike? These fun flamingo facts and trivia may surprise you!
- There are only six species of flamingos in the world, though several of those species have subspecies divisions and could eventually be split into different unique species. All flamingos belong to the bird family Phoenicopteridae.
- Flamingos are found around the world from the Caribbean and South America to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. They are also popular guests in many zoos, aviaries, aquariums and botanical gardens well outside their native ranges. Occasional escaped flamingos often make headlines among birders.
- The word “flamingo” comes from the Spanish and Latin word “flamenco” which means fire, and refers to the bright color of the birds’ feathers. Not all flamingos are brightly colored, however, and some of the birds are mostly gray or white. The strength of a flamingo’s coloration comes from its diet. Younger birds also have less coloration.
- While flamingos are considered wading birds, the same classification as herons, egrets, spoonbills and cranes, they are most closely related to grebes genetically.
- Flamingos are strong but rare swimmers and powerful fliers, even though they’re most often seen just wading. Flamingos do fly very well, however, and many flamingos migrate or regularly fly between the best food sources and nesting grounds.