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|At Bhigwan, Maharashtra, India|
The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is found in parts of Africa, southern Asia (coastal regions of Pakistan and India), and southern Europe (including Spain, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and the Camargue region of France). Some populations are short distance migrants, and sightings north of the breeding range are relatively frequent; however, given the species' popularity in captivity, whether or not these are truly wild individuals is a matter of some debate. A single bird was seen on North Keeling Island (Cocos (Keeling) Islands) in 1988. The Greater Flamingo is the state bird of Gujarat, India.
This is the largest species of flamingo, averaging 110–150 cm (43–60 in) tall and weighing 2–4 kg (4.4–8.8 lbs). The largest male flamingos have been recorded at up to 187 cm (74 in) tall and 4.5 kg (10 lbs). It is closely related to the American Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo, with which it has sometimes been considered conspecific, but that treatment is now widely seen (e.g., by the American and British Ornithologists' Union) as incorrect and based on insufficient evidence.
Like all flamingos, this species lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound.
The bill is pink with a restricted black tip, and the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking.
In the Rann of Kutch salt marsh of India and Pakistan, Greater Flamingos are occasionally electrocuted when they sit on 1000 watt electric cables near their breeding areas. Recently 139 deaths were officially recorded in the region.
The average lifespan in captivity, according to Zoo Basel, is over 60 years.
The oldest known Greater Flamingo, a resident of the Adelaide Zoo in Australia, is at least 77 years old. The bird's exact age is not known; however, he was already a mature adult when he arrived in Adelaide in 1933, and he was still there as of 2011.
The bird resides in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and mollusks.
Because of Zoo Basel's extraordinarily successful breeding program and a lack of room, most of the hatchlings are sent to zoos around the world. Given the history and the large number of birds hatched in Basel since 1959, it may be concluded that most of the Greater Flamingo zoo colonies around the world are related to the one at Basel.
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