The Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is the most vibrantly colored of all flamingos, and the only species truly native to North America. Like all flamingos, this species gains it coloration from the existence of carotenoid pigments within the algae and tiny crustaceans that they ate. In captivity, flamingos exist on a special pellet diet that not only provides them with their required nutrients, but also gives them the pigmentation needed to maintain their snazzy colors.
In order to get at their food, flamingos feed with their heads upside down. They use their tongues to suck in water and everything that comes with it, and then using filters built in to the ridges of their beaks they are able to dispel the excess water.
Like many animals that I have discussed here, there is some argument surrounding the classification of the Caribbean Flamingo. Some consider it to be its own species, (though it is sometimes called the American Flamingo, due to the fact that it lives in the Galapagos Islands - well away from the Caribbean) while others consider it to be a subspecies of the Greater Flamingo. Those in the subspecies camp have given it the full name of Phoenicopterus ruber ruber.
|Flamingos at the Milwaukee County Zoo|