Fun Flamingo Facts

Call it the Flamingo Underground:  those folks who love the outrageousness of flamingos always and everywhere.  

Flamingo flour sack tea towel

Recently I painted my own flamingo design and laughed and smiled my way through the research.  Since flamingos have so many crazy, fun, unexpected things about them I rounded up a few of my favorite flamingo discoveries. 

1)  That bend in their legs is actually their ANKLE, not their knee.  The knee is so high up the leg we generally don't see it. 

2) How and why do they balance on one leg?  After all the saving-body-heat theories, one scientist discovered that they can lock their ankles into place so it is actually easier for them to stand, balanced, on one leg instead of two. No muscle required.  

3) Flamingos' beaks are bent so they can turn their heads almost upside down in the water and filter out food.  Their beaks contain something that is like whale baleen for this filtering process.  

4) To top off the feeding wildness, what we would consider their top beak is actually NOT ATTACHED to their skulls.  This means that when they are feeding with their heads upside down, their top beaks act like our lower jaws do, moving freely.  

Flamingo close up, photo by Lilla Frerichs

5)  All the species of flamingo do a group or flock mating dance.  This YouTube video is a hysterical and charming glimpse of the dance.  

6) The pink plastic lawn flamingo was created in 1957 by Don Featherstone. (He passed away last year, which may explain its sudden resurgence this year.)  While the lawn flamingo has an interesting social history which you can read in this fun article, the plastic flamingo didn't start outselling Featherstone's first creation, a plastic duck, until Miami Vice reawakened everyone's love of Florida kitsch in the mid 1980s.  

Pink plastic lawn flamingo, photo by Linnaea Mallet

Of course there is more, but I hope you're inspired to go read up on these delightful creatures! 

And if you're hankering for a flamingo tea towel, or a flamingo mug, or a flamingo apron or a flamingo print instead of an actual lawn flamingo, just click on the links!  



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