Flamingos are beautiful wild beings that are often seen standing tall in shallow water bodies with one of their legs curled up. They are large with magnificent pink plumage covering their entire bodies, making them look almost ethereal.
Flamingos are among the most immediately recognizable water birds, thanks to their pink plumage and dramatically hooked beaks. They are also communal birds that may dwell in colonies of tens of thousands. Among these colonies is spotted a different-looking flamingo.
Read on to find out more about this rare bird.
Black flamingos are just as exquisite as pink flamingos. They’re rare to come across as they have a genetic condition called melanism, which causes pigment-producing genes to generate more melanin and deposit it in a flamingo’s body. It is one in a billion-time sighting.
Every year, approximately 20,000 greater flamingos flock to a salt lake near Akrotiri, on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
A black flamingo was almost unheard of until it was seen. It was first spotted in Israel in 2013 and then in Cyprus in 2015. The bird has only been seen twice, with theories even suggesting that it may have been the same bird.
There is not much information about the sighting in Israel, but the one in Cyprus gained much traction. Seeing it twice alerted the scientists and birders around the world.
Imagine the delight of observers from the Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre when they discovered an ebony flamingo while performing a flamingo census. This tally is generated regularly, and 20,000 pink flamingos are expected.
Check out this rare footage of a black flamingo spotted in Cyprus.
You may be questioning why both sightings are related. This is because Flamingos may be non-migratory birds, but they can move. Flamingo settlements are not necessarily permanent due to variations in their nesting sites’ temperature and water levels.
Breeding colonies in high-altitude lakes that may freeze over in the winter migrate to warmer climates. The majority of flamingos that migrate will reproduce in their original settlement. Some may, however, choose to join a nearby colony. Some flamingo populations may also be forced to move due to drought.
It is, therefore, quite a possibility that the blackbird spotted in Israel may have relocated to Cyprus by 2015.
DID YOU KNOW?
The majority of the time, flamingos move at night.
An argument was initiated saying that the timespan between the two sightings is of two years. The flamingo may even have passed during this time. This argument, however, has no substance. We have no reason to believe that the bird may have died especially considering the lengthy average lifespan!
DID YOU KNOW?
An American Flamingo's average life expectancy in the wild is 40 years, and in confinement, they can survive for up to 60 years.
There was another argument that played with probability. Black flamingos are extremely rare, yet simple probability implies that there isn’t just one of them. So although the chances of a flamingo being born melanistic are slim, there are enough of them.
There are an estimated 5 million flamingos on the planet. However, the greater flamingo (the kind seen here) is thought to have a few million populations.
A melanistic creature is a highly unusual sighting. You can consider it as the reverse of an albino.
Melanism is a hereditary disease that produces extra pigment to deepen feathers. According to research, this is responsible for the bird’s unique appearance. It’s previously been found in hawks and ducks, but a greater flamingo has just joined the group.
You may be wondering if the black flamingo can be compared to ‘The Ugly Duckling.’
Was it also shunned by the observers that found it dark, dirty, and unpleasant to look at? The truth is, different as it may be, the black flamingo was found no less beautiful.
Observers might be finding the black flamingo unique and fascinating, but what is the effect of the color on the bird itself? It has its advantages and disadvantages. Naturally, the other flamingos may not be attracted to the dark color, while it may prove helpful to escape predation.
Melanism can aid birds to fade in with their environment, which can be an effective anti-predator defense for some birds. However, because mature flamingos have few natural enemies in the area, their plumage may be more of a liability than a benefit. This is because too much color leaves feathers fragile and prone to breaking.
Dark coloring might also be a drawback for flamingos looking for a mate. Unlike people, flamingos themselves were not observed giving this rare bird attention. Quite the opposite was noticed, especially by its counterparts. Black feathers may have been making it difficult to attract partners who are used to rosy pink.
Flamingos are born white and grey. The rich carotenoid level of the algae and crustaceans they eat causes them to become their characteristic hue of pinkish-orange.
Researchers believe that this bird (and maybe the other one seen in Israel) has a genetic problem that causes it to generate too much melanin, turning its plumage black. Except for a tuft of white feathers on its back, the flamingo is entirely black.
These beautiful black flamingos are so rare that there is a considerable possibility of being just one in the whole world. Spotted twice up till now, this blackbird has left everyone in awe!
There are so many questions that come to one’s mind. Where was it spotted? How is it different from the usual flamingos? Do they accept the distinct birds as one of them? The answers for some have been found, while the others remain a mystery. For now, you will have to do with the information that we have!
To be able to spot these rare birds, you should have with you the right birdwatching gear. Read this blog to learn more about how you can amplify your birdwatching experience the next you happen to come across a rare bird.
My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!
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