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Pink and Fluffy in Yucatan

A look at one of the region’s most striking wild creatures

There are six different species of those pink birds with long legs called flamingos; four of those in the American continent. These beautiful birds can be found in the wild in parts of Africa, south of Europe, southeast Asia, India, South America, including the Galapagos islands, and the Caribbean, including Yucatan.

The ‘American flamingo’ is the one found when travelling to Holbox or to Celestun, both localities in the Yucatan peninsula and on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This one is a large species and it is the only one inhabiting North America – it used to be found in Florida, but nowadays it is only found in the wild in Mexico.

Flamingos live for around 40 years, and when they are about six years old, they are mature enough to start mating. These pink, fluffy birds are usually monogamous and show an interesting display of courtship. It usually starts with the male and includes preening, marching, and head turning. Once one starts, the entire colony takes part in it. They seem to mate during the rainy season when there are more materials for building their nests and more food is available.

It can take both parents about six weeks to build the nest. The American flamingo lays a single egg between May and August for 28-32 days on top of a volcano-shaped nest. Both parents incubate and protect the nest for around 30 days and funnily, the offspring have white or grey feathers! They get their famous pink color with age. Because of this color, flamingos are often selected as a fluffy icon of advertising, clothing and zoos.

They do not have many predators as adults, due to their size; the main threat right now is habitat reduction and destruction for urbanization and agriculture. They are a beautiful sight if you get to see their pink colony in Celestun or flying!

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