Flamingoes in Palm Desert, CA

Each time I visit California’s Palm Desert area, I stop by the Marriott Hotel to see the flamingoes. The staff here care for some Chilean flamingoes, birds normally found in South America. 

Flamingoes are interesting birds to observe. The adults have bright pink feathers and a pink-base, black-tipped bill shaped quite differently from other birds. The pink color comes from the carotenoids in plants they eat. Immatures have gray-colored feathers. It is not for 2-3 years before the immatures have their hook-shaped bill and pink feathers.

Flamingoes are filter feeders. They turn their head upside down, bill pointing at their feet, and sweep their head side to side. Using their tongue they pump water in and out of its bill with comb-like plates along the edge creating a filter. Water rushes out while the food is trapped inside.

I was trying to figure out what this adult was doing with the immature flamingo. With some research, it seems “milk” is produced by both parents in their crop (part of their throat) to feed young ones. Brought up through their mouth, the “milk” provides healthy proteins and fats so the adult is feeding its young.

The knee is actually higher up on the leg hidden by the body and feathers. This is actually an ankle joint seen in the above photo.

Final note: a group of flamingoes can be called a stand, colony, pat, or flamboyance!

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