a large pink or red tropical bird that has a long neck and long legs and lives near water
Origin of the word
The word flamingo derives from the Spanish word ‘flamengo’, which translates literally as ‘flame-coloured’.
A flamingo is a large wading bird. Its defining features include a long neck, long legs and feathers which vary in colour from dark to light pink. They live beside the edges of saltwater lagoons and freshwater lakes, eating a diet of plankton, shrimps and algae. It is the chemicals contained in plankton which give the flamingo’s plumage its distinctive hue. With such a long neck, a flamingo feeds by bending its head upside down, then sinking its beak into the water to capture food. An unusual appearance has made the flamingo a popular image in fashion and home décor. The most iconic example is probably the plastic garden flamingo, which first went on sale in 1957.
It used to be thought that these very social birds were from Southern Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Central America and South America. However, a recent study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found the flamingo population there was native, rather than visiting from abroad. A large indigenous flock lives all year round in North America’s Florida Bay, situated between the mainland and the Florida Keys. As a result of their findings, the commission has removed the American flamingo from its non-native species list.
“I feel these days like a very large flamingo. No matter what way I turn, there is always a very large bill.”
“She is pure Alice in Wonderland, and her appearance and demeanor are a nicely judged mix of the Red Queen and a flamingo.”
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
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