Flamingos or flamingoes are a type of wading bird in the family Phoenicopteridae. Four flamingo species are distributed throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean, and two species are native to Africa, Asia, and Europe.
The name "flamingo" comes from Portuguese or Spanish Flamengo, "flame-colored", in turn coming from Provençal flamenc from flama "flame" and Germanic-like suffix -ing, with a possible influence of words like "Fleming".
Flamingos usually stand on one leg while the other is tucked beneath their bodies. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. One theory is that standing on one leg allows the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water.
A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored, thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished.
Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae as well as larva, small insects, mollusks and crustaceans making them omnivores. Their bills are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down.
Flamingos are very social birds; they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. These large colonies are believed to serve three purposes for the flamingos: avoiding predators, maximizing food intake, and using scarcely suitable nesting sites more efficiently.
Young flamingos hatch with greyish-red plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-carotene obtained from their food supply.
Flamingos are capable flyers, and flamingos in captivity often require wing clipping to prevent escape.