The American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) is the offical name of the pink flamingos we're so used to seeing in zoos throughout the United States. Also common here in captivity is the Greater Flamingo.
These birds are closely related. The flamingos that are found in the wild in the United States are usually zoo escapees. The American Flamingo breeds in the Galapago Islands and South America. The Greater Flamingo breeds in parts of Africa and southern Asia and Europe.
The coloring of these 2 species is slightly different, making them easy to differentiate. The Greater has paler pink-white feathers while the American is mostly a darker pink coloring. The Greater has darker pink and also black wing coverts. It has a pink bill with a black tip. It's long legs are pink. The American has red wing coverts with some black. It has a pink and white bill, with just a much smaller black tip than the Greater Flamingos. It also has lanky pink legs. Both breeds of babies are born with gray or white feathers and a straight, red bill. It takes a few years for their adult coloring to set in.
Both of these breeds of flamingos are quite loud and chatty. They have loud honking noises as that chatter amongst themselves. They are known to live in large colonies of other birds, sometimes in the thousands. These birds do not breed every year. When they do, they lay only 1 egg. Their nests are mad of mud and sticks and are in the shape of a volcano. Baby birds stay in the next for only up to a week. After that, parents take their babies to join with other babies in the colony to be looked after and learn together. Babies are fed milk produced by both parents. This is called 'crop milk.'
Flamingos are wading birds. In the wild, they are often found with other flocks of wading birds. While wading they feed on algae and brine shrimp. It's the beta-carotene in the brine shrimp that offer the flamingos their stunning pink coloration.
Flamingos in the wild are sadly starting to disappear. No one knows entirely why, but as with many species, humans seem to be a large cause. Drainage for development of land and mosquito control has destroyed a lot of their natural environment. It's possible that pesticides and avian cholera are also playing a part.