Reproduction System

The Flamingo

Types

There are considered to be 6 species of Flamingo:

  • The greater flamingo; they live in Africa, the Middle East, India, Europe, South America, and the West Indies.
  • The Lesser flamingo; they live in Kenya and Tanzania in Africa
  • The Andean flamingo; they live in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
  • The James flamingo; they are very rare and usually live near lakes of the Andes Mountains, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
  • The American flamingo; they live in Caribbean islands, Caribbean Mexico, Belize and Galapagos islands.
  • The Chilean flamingo; they live in South America.

Habitat

Flamingos always live near water; lakes, swamps, the sea, and even acidic water. They like to live in tropical places all over the world. Depending on what tyoe of flamingo they are, they tend to live in places such as Africa, South America, The Middle East, India, Europe and the West Indies. They live over a very vast area of land. Some flamingos that live in different parts of Europe, usually migrate (fly in a group to a warmer place) when the weather gets cooler. Some vulnerable flamingos cannot cope to new environment pressures (such as global warming, miners releasing chemicals into their water), and sadly end up dying.

This is a map showing the vast land, of where the flamingos live.

Fertilization

Flamingos use sexual reproduction to reproduce, the male jumps onto the female's back from behind and firmly plants his feet on her wing joints. After mating the male stands on the female's back, then jumps off over her head (he then may or may not flap his wings and make a loud noise). Mating usually occurs in water, but it is internal fertilisation (but they lay an egg, they do not give 'birth'). They begin to mate at about 6 years of age, and reach sexual maturity several years after hatching. Flamingos fertilise a female's egg by sending sperm into her body, and when the sperm reaches an egg the sperm fertilises it. Some advantages of this process are that they do not have to waste energy into making many eggs and/or sperm; because species that use external fertilisation need to release many eggs and sperm in the hope that they will find an egg/sperm. Some disadvantages of this process are that it limits the amount of offspring that can be made because when the fertilisation isn't in the mothers body the develop outside the body, but mothers would not be able to walk around with heaps of offspring in their bodies. Another disadvantage is that if the species has a threatening disease it is more likely to be spread through internal reproduction than external reproduction.

Development

The embryonic flamingo first starts to develop in the egg, when it is still in the mothers body. But, once the mother lays the egg, it undergoes the majority of the development. The baby flamingo only starts to break out of the egg when the baby embryo is fully developed. Flamingos use oviparity development, as all birds do, therefore the embryo develops in the egg, outside of the body/externally. The gestation period is between 27 and 31 days. Flamingos live in a habitat where predators have a tough time reaching them, therefore they are able to have many eggs with little chance of them getting eaten by other animals. Some advantages of this type of development are that the mother can have more babies because the egg is laid externally, therefore not inside her body. Another advantage is that it doesn't take much energy for the mother to have the babies, therefore again has more energy to make more babies and reproduce more, and quicker. One disadvantage of this type of development though, is that because the mother is busy having other babies the parental care is not low as such, but low enough for every now and then the chick to die. So, she can make more offspring, but this type of development decreases the likely-hood of them all surviving.

Parental care

Both partners help to incubate the egg in turns, the period of incubation is between 27 and 31 days. During this time period there would always be one parent there with the egg, the parent may also turn the egg with its bill, stretch their wings, and clean themselves. Hatching takes between 24 and 36 hours. While breaking out of the egg shell the baby will call out the the mum or dad. The chick will break through the shell with what is called an 'egg tooth' (which will fall off basically immediately after the chick hatches). Parents are able to recognise their own chick, and they will not feed any other chick. The chick will start to leave the nest after about 5-7 days, once it is able to stand and walk by itself. Even still the parents keep a close watch on the chick and are quite protective of them. Females usually only lay one egg at a time, and it is very rare, but not impossible for them to lay two eggs at one time. They give their young quite a bit of parental care because when they do start to leave the nest, they are only just starting to learn how to stand on their own legs and walk by themselves. They are also quite vulnerable so if anything were to go wrong the parents woud always step in to defend their chick. Some advantages of this level of parental care are that the chicks are always safe because their parents are around, and also the chick would never get lost! I personally don't think that there are any disadvantages of this type of parental care because they are far from over protective, but they are always there when their chicks need them, and look out for them. Flamingos use k-selection reproduction, meaning that reproduction is not a quick process, they only produce two offspring at a maximum, take several years until sexually matured, and they look after them for a long time.

Other information

Many flamingos that live in Kenya and Tanzania are dying. Scientists are not sure why, but believe i may be something to do with bacteria in the water that they live in.
When they start to mate the male flamingos make a loud noise, stick their heads up in the air, and continuously turn their heads back and forth. While females on the other hand, begin the mating process by walking away!
Flamingos are pink or red, this is because of small bacteria that live in the water that the flamingos drink (flamingos also eat small crayfish and algae) but the baby flamingos are grey. Flamingos are very tall birds and they have long legs. Most of the time they only stand on one leg! Scientists are not 100% sure why but they think it might be because in winter they need to keep their feet warm, but they also stand on one leg in summer, so they are unsure as to why they stand like that! Flamingos have a curved bill that is shaped like a banana, this is because they feed in the mud on the bottom of lakes. Flamingos can weigh up to 4kg and be up to 145cm tall. They usually only live up to around 47 years, but like all species can die earlier, or much later.

Bibliography!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo#Status_and_c...
http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/flamingo/reproduction.htm http://www.seaworld.org/infobooks/flamingos/frepro...
http://www.wisegeek.org/how-are-flamingos-adapted-for-their-habitat.htm
dishmansbio208.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/oviparity-ovoviparity-viviparity/

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