Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – The Greater Flamingos (White) of Spain

Flamingoes (White) @ Val Lee

My husband, Al, and I flew to Spain in May. Al spoils me with exotic adventures! We also savored Paris and Gibraltar during the trip. Spain in May is most lovely. When in Spain, at Fuente de Piedra (“fountain of stone”) Lake, I was surprised to view these white Flamingos with salmon pink wings with black wing tips. I thought the LORD God only made Flamingos in stately bright orange or pink from simply viewing the Caribbean or American Flamingo.

There are actually six species of Flamingos found throughout the world. The Greater Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) are the most widely spread, but not found in the Americas. Besides Spain, these white great beauties reside in parts of Africa and in southern Asia—the coastal regions of Pakistan and India (It is the state bird of Gujarat, India). They are also nestled in southern Europe—in Sardinia, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, and in France. They group in large flocks that often show-off thousands of pomp members. In Kenya Africa, four million will gather at Lake Bogona. Flamingos are a distinct bird family. They are classified as the Greater Flamingo being their height averages 50 inches—tallest of all Flamingos.

The great whites’ plumage is stunning to behold! They do display some pink but it definitely is overshadowed by a downy-white petticoat look as seen at Fuente de Piedra Lake.

They are never referred to as white Flamingos, but this is what I call them. How could I not? I guess I must be proper and call them pink and they are very pink in some locals.

The Greaters love the wetland of Fuente de Piedra in the Málaga province of Spain. This is where I shot my photos and videos for this article. Here you can locate the largest colony of these white long-neckers within the Iberian Peninsula. The shallow lake is fed by underwater springs that pass through mineral salt deposits. God made it perfect for these saline thriving aves that are attracted by the seaweed and crustaceans, which flourish in these rich brackish waters.

Flamingos Greater (White Plumage) @ Val Lee

My first video of Great Flamingos at Fuente de Piedra Lake shows them flying and their daily water sporting routines. They display white radiance, swan-lake-like, as they float.

During the Roman Empire era, nearby townsfolk frequented the Fuente de Piedra Lake to bathe and recuperate, believing the lake held medicinal qualities. During this period, Flamingos were hunted for their tongues—considered a tasteful delicacy. Yuck! Salt was also extracted from the lake during Roman times and until recently for table salt. In the 1930s, a salt company that owned the lake undertook a campaign to reduce the Flamingo population, which was threatening their salt production. However, the salt lake attracted so many birds and birders that in 1988 it was declared a zone of special birding interest (ZEPA) in protection of wildlife.

The Fuente Lagoon is not more than 3 1/2 feet deep. The Greater Flamingos need a certain amount of water to breed and will desert their eggs if aqua supplies evaporate due to drought. 2008 was a drought year and no eggs were hatched. 2009 was a significant year for the Greats, being over 5000 young fledged.

Flamingos beautify themselves 15 to 30 percent each day. Their large slightly curved bills, displaying white, pink and black hues, smooth and clean their elegant plumage with oil pulled from a gland located near their pretty tails for this preening process that also involves waterproofing their countless feathers.

Zoologists believe the Flamingo’s favorite resting position is their one leg stance. Supposedly, pulling one leg upward assists Flamingos in the conservation of energy, enabling them to stay warm. Greater Flamingos have three forward-pointing toes and a hallux or hind toe.

Flamingos implement their feet to stir up mud to gather their desired delicacies for their palate. The webbing between their toes assists their stance in soft mire. Flamingos eat with their head upside down and hold their breath in the water, siphoning the water through their bills, filtering small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms, and mollusks. Mud and water drain out the back of the bill. The food is captured in their beaks with finger-like projections called lamellae.

Flamingos Greater (White Plumage) @ Val Lee

Here is my second video shot at Fuente de Piedra Lake showing a Greater Flamingo long-necker descending into very shallow waters to feed.

Jesus Christ created the Flamingos in Spain at Fuente de Piedra Lagoon to be white bodied. He created them with salmon and black flight feathers. They are perfectly color coordinated as revealed when they fly past. We know by observing animals that their coloring cannot always be diet-oriented as brown, black and gray squirrels maintain the same diet and many animals eat foods that do not correspond to their color. And don’t forget the magnificent eyes on so many animals that have no resemblance to the color of their food. I might add, my orange and white cat, Alfredo, does not eat orange and white food; only dull brown. It is all by God’s orchestrated design and plan whatever that entails. Everything is masterly crafted by Jesus Christ the Creator of all that is natural in origin.

In the Bible, In Revelation chapter 5, verses 11-14, we learn someday the Flamingos will speak the praises of Jesus Christ who was slain and rose again that He might “receive power, riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” We learn from this passage that every created thing in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea and in the sea will give praise to Jesus Christ.

Flamingos Greater (White Plumage) @ Val Lee

A Flamingo will run to acquire speed for jetting off into the wild blue yonder for a solo flight. The flying Flamingos flap their wings almost continuously in flight. They will take to the air when startled or to migrate. The speed of a flock can reach 31 to 37 miles per hour. They can fly 300 miles to reach a new habitat.

Flamingo research proves them to be completely monogamous—mating for life, having eyes only for each other, as decreed by the LORD. Male and female Greater Flamingos appear the same. They woo each other with a variety of love notes in vocal speech. They implement head and wing flaunting to capture the attention of that special vain one. What has produced immense notoriety is their expertly synchronized courting marches. Flamingos have distinct march maneuvers that take place when the flock walks as one in a single direction, then quickly turns in another direction. They would make a perfect military marching regiment and they even have a “wing salute” in honor of the Air Force (I’m kidding, of course). “They show off their colors with cocked tails and outstretched necks, and ‘head flagging’ in a rhythmic side-to-side head turn.” They can appear to be most vainly dignified. “Vanity, Thy Name is Flamingo.”

A mother Flamingo will lay one or two eggs on a mound of mud that can be a foot tall. The eggs are incubated for about a month. Both parents incubate the eggs. Mom and Dad will feed their young by folding their long legs and straddling the nest. Both parents nourish their nestlings with crop milk—a dark red, high fat, enriched-protein liquid secreted from their upper digestive tracts. Our blessed God is totally amazing in understanding the needs of His created young.

Chicks are downy gray and have a straight bill upon hatching. The chicks fledge (fly) in 70-75 days. The young reach their full adult size at 1½ to 2 years and they receive adult plumage at 2-4 years. Some Flamingos can live for 20 years in the wild.

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

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