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RIP Greater

January 31, 2014
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Screen Shot 2014-01-31 at 9.23.24 PMImagine going through life and having no one figure out what sex you were?  That was the life Greater led, not being harassed by those of the same feather, just a few nasty kids, in 2008.  The Pink Flamingo would be remiss if the world’s longest surviving Greater Flamingo were not properly memorialized.

Greater, the world’s longest surviving, and last Greater Flamingo in Australia has gone to the great shrimpfest in the sky.  He was 83 years old!  He survived being attacked by local youths, in 2008, recovering, nicely.  About a year ago, he began having problems with arthritis. But, he just couldn’t go any farther poor guy.

Before we morn the loss of the entire species, it needs to be noted, thank heavens, that the Greater Flamingo is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. The average life-span is about 60 years.  There are large Greater Flamingo colonies throughout the world.

“...This is the largest species of flamingo, averaging 110–150 cm (43–60 in) tall and weighing 2–4 kg (4.4–8.8 lbs). The largest male flamingos have been recorded at up to 187 cm (74 in) tall and 4.5 kg (10 lbs).  It is closely related to the American Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo, with which it has sometimes been considered conspecific, but that treatment is now widely seen (e.g., by the American and British Ornithologists’ Union) as incorrect and based on insufficient evidence.

Like all flamingos, this species lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound. Most of the plumage is pinkish-white, but the wing coverts are red and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink with a restricted black tip, and the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking. Sub-adult flamingos are whitish-grey and only attain the pink coloration several years into their adult life. The coloration comes from the carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.

The bird resides in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and mollusks. The Greater Flamingo feeds with its head down and its upper jaw is movable and not rigidly fixed to its skull…”

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