These birds live in both saline and freshwater habitat such as lagoons, estuaries, mangrove swamps, mud flats, and large shallow coastal or inland lakes tidal flats, and sandy islands above the low tide mark. Flamingos are found in warm, shallow, watery regions on many continents.
Sizes differ in species, with the greater flamingo measuring between 36 to 50 inches in height, with a wingspan of about 60 inches, and weigh an average of 8.75 lbs. Flamingos have long sinuous necks, slender legs, and black-tipped bills that achieve a downward bend upon maturity.
They start by stirring up the mud and water with their long legs and webbed feet. They then turn their head slightly upside down, so that their inverted bills are underwater, enabling them to suck up both mud and water. Then shake their head from side to side, expelling the excess mud and water, and keeping back the plankton, tiny fish and fly larvae.
The parents regurgitate food which is fed to the baby, and both mother and father secrete a milk-like substance that provides their young with proper nourishment. This goes on till the baby's beak has developed fully, and it is capable of hunting for food.
This may include only one display, or an often seen sequence of head-flag, wing-salute, and twist-preen. They are commonly witnessed preening, which takes up a considerable amount of time everyday. The purpose of the preening is to use the bill to spread oil from a gland near the base of their tail through their feathers, thus waterproofing them.
Flamingos face a threat from the destruction of their habitat by humans. Encroachment of their habitat, as well as indirectly causing changes in water depth, quality, and salinity, are adversely affecting these birds.