Friday, May 14, 2010

How to be a Pink Flamingo in a Brown Duck Pond

Today, I heard quacking, but then I realized I was just listening in the wrong language. Of late, I have been observing the fowl world and more specifically communication, adaptation and behavioral strategies.

I am particularly interested in the contrast between the flamingo and the brown duck because I find these feathered friends to be very familiar with our own species. When one thinks of the flamingo, we think of bright colors. The brown duck is often associated with dull, guarded behavior. The flamingo is thought to be gregarious, fabulous, fiery and flamboyant.

The brown duck is staid, serious, safe and dull in appearance. The flamingo celebrates and dances, while the brown duck perches and waddles. Flamingos like to party in mobs (we have all seen the ever so popular lawn flamingo that often converges in packs of 40 or 50) and brown decks tend to prefer the linear approach to moving together.

And flamingos are revered for their beauty. Ancient Egyptians believed flamingos to be the living representation of the god Ra. The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped nature. They placed emphasis on animals and often depicted flamingos in their art. Brown Ducks make good decoys.

Let me illustrate with some observations and facts.

Flamingos have what it takes to survive a caustic environment.
The flamingo is often referred to as "Fire Birds" and are some of the only creatures designed to survive in the caustic environment of a volcanic lake. Equipped with a filter-feeding system unlike any other bird on earth, flamingoes' beaks have evolved to skim tiny algae from the water's surface. By swinging their upside-down heads from side to side or swishing water with their fat tongues, flamingos siphon the lake water through their filters to trap algae. They can filter as many as 20 beakfuls of algae-rich water in a single second. This unique feeding system gives flamingos a certain security: while they must watch out for predators like jackals or eagles, they compete with no other animals for food.
(Source: )

Flamingos have balance and appreciate a little zen, now and then. 
Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Some suggest that the flamingo, like some other animals, has the ability to have half of its body go into a state of sleep, and when one side is rested, the flamingo will swap leg and then let the other half sleep, but this has not been proven. Recent research has indicated that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom. 

Flamingos flourish famously and with fervor.
Flamingos have no firm mating season. The parents build a mud-cone nest that holds one egg, which males and females take turn incubating. When the chicks hatch, their parents must take care to keep the infants from falling off the nest into the caustic lake. When they are old enough to venture from the nest, chicks join groups of thousands and explore their home lakes, waiting for their parents to bring them mouthfuls of water at mealtimes. flamingos hatch with grey plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta carotene obtained from their food supply.

Flamingos love to stand out, and show off. (Seriously, can you do this?)
A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly coloured and thus a more desirable mate. A white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.

Flamingos love to flash mob dance. 
Posturing and signaling with their wings, bowing and bending their necks, running back and forth as a group, and then suddenly taking flight to wheel around the edges of the lake -- a crowd of dancing flamingos is one of the strangest, most breathtaking sights in the natural world. Is it a mating ritual? Are the birds burning up excess energy? Or do they do it simply for fun? No one is really sure.

Click on the link here to see Flamingos flash mob dance:


Anonymous said...
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Lynear Thinking said...

Well, Brown Ducks and Flamingos are still birds of a feather.

Anonymous said...

This piece was a fanciful metaphoric dance with words. Loved it !

Posted by Anonymous to Lynear Thinking at May 20, 2013