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Flamingos or flamingoes (pronunciation (help·info)) are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus and family Phoenicopteridae. They are found in both the Western Hemisphere and in the Eastern Hemisphere, but are more numerous in the latter. There are four species in the Americas while only two exist in the Old World. Two species, the Andean and the James's Flamingo, are often placed in the genus Phoenicoparrus instead of Phoenicopterus.
Flamingos frequently stand on one leg. The reason for this behavior is not fully known. One common theory is that tucking one leg beneath the body may conserve body heat, but this has not been proven. It is often suggested that this is done in part to keep the legs from getting wet, in addition to conserving energy. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.
Young flamingos hatch with grey plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly coloured and thus a more desirable mate. A white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild. This is changing as more zoos begin to add prawns and other supplements to the diets of their flamingos.
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