Flamingos are a type of wading bird that live in areas of large shallow lakes, lagoons, mangrove swamps, tidal flats, and sandy islands.
The word "flamingo" comes from the Spanish word "flamenco" which came from the earlier Latin word "flamma" meaning flame or fire.
There are six species of flamingo in the world. Two are found in the Old World and four species live in the New World - Americas.
The most widespread flamingo is the Greater flamingo found in areas of Africa, Southern Europe and South, Southwest Asia. The Lesser flamingo is the most numerous and lives in the Great Rift Valley of Africa through to Northwest India.
The four species in the New World include the Chilean flamingo, found in temperate South American areas, the Andean Flamingo and James's flamingo found in the high Andes mountains in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina and the American flamingo of the Caribbean islands, Belize and Galapagos islands.
The Greater flamingo is the largest species, at up to 1.5 m (5 ft) tall and weighing up to 3.5 kg (8 lbs). The Lesser flamingo is just 90 cm (3 ft) tall, weighing 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs).
In the wild flamingos live 20 - 30 years and sometimes over 50 years in captivity.
Flamingo legs can be longer than their entire body. The backward bending "knee" of a flamingo's leg is actually its ankle, the knee is out of sight further up the leg.
Quite often flamingos will stand on one leg, with the other tucked under the body. Its not fully understood why they do this but it is believed to conserve body heat.
The flamingo is a filter-feeder, holding its curved beak upside down in the water it sucks in the muddy water and pushes the mud and silt out the side while tiny hair-like filters along the beak called lamellae sieve food from the water.
The pink to reddish color of a flamingo's feathers comes from carotenoids (the pigment that also makes carrots orange) in their diet of plankton, brine shrimp and blue-green algae.
Flamingos are social birds, they live in colonies of sometimes thousands, this helps in avoiding predators, maximizing food intake, and is better for nesting.
Flamingo colonies split into breeding groups of up to 50 birds, who then perform a synchronized ritual 'dance' whereby they stand together stretching their necks upwards, uttering calls while waving their heads and then flapping their wings.
The flamingo is the national bird of the Bahamas.