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Flamingo (Animal) Paperback – July 15, 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
The lengthy introduction and first chapter are the core of this book, covering biology, evolution and behaviors--natural history. I did not know there were six species, or that overall they were so widespread. One flamingo habitat is in the puna ecosystem of the high Andes (of the puna flamingo, also called James's flamingo). I had always thought the pink and reddish colors came from eating shrimp, but it comes rather from carotinoids in cyanobacteria, algae and phytoplankton that are the more usual foods. Some of the photos of flamingo behaviors are wonderful. One shows "marching," a group activity related to mating, and abother shows a flamingo spat with three having erect feathers in the "chrysanthemum" behavior, and yes, that's what those birds look like, glorious flowers.
Among other bits of flamingo life I had not known is how little they weigh: a bird standing four and a half feet tall might weigh six pounds. The oldest know flamingo made it to age 81 in a zoo, and the oldest known flamingo in the wild was at least 51 years old.
Chapter 2 has the unfortunate title of "Flamingos in Early Human Consciousness." It is nothing of the kind, the chapter discussing Egyptian depictions of flamingos, and the bird in Greek and Roman history. That's a long time ago, but hardly the dawn of the human mind. Chapter 3 is about the rise of the modern flamingo, meaning more or less the cultural flamingo in the form of figures in painting, in children's and adult books, as a focus of natural history, and the delightful appearance of flamingos in Alice in Wonderland, in which the flamingos become croquet mallets. Some of the reproductions of flamingos in paintings are quite striking.
Chapter 4 concerns the pink plastic flamingo, thought up by a man with a feather in his name--Dan Featherstone. The pink plastic flamingo has become a cultural trope. Chapter 5 is short but looks at the flamingo's future. A couple of the six species are in fairly good shape but a couple are endangered. The chief threat is habitat destruction, particularly of the shallow waters in which they feed. At the end of the text is a timeline and a list of sources, including several online resources.