Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Flamingo

My son and his family visited us this weekend and we spent our time at the local Marriott resort in Horseshoe Bay near Marble Falls, Texas. They have a stunning botanical garden with rivers, waterfalls, ponds and lakes, turtles and frogs, and one beautiful pink flamingo.

At first, when I saw the flamingo, I thought he was fake. He held very still, standing on one leg in the middle of his pond, his beak tucked into his chest. Then he slowly raised his head and changed position. I glanced down at my grandson, and when I raised my head again, the flamingo had turned its body around. I was wondering if it would put down its leg to turn around. I didn't see it happen, so I don't know! We walked around the gardens and I photographed some turtles and frogs, and when I returned, the flamingo was, once again facing us.

It looks like cotton candy. It has some red on its body, but these are under-feathers and more like highlighting on a work of art, accents to bring out the softness of the pink. Its feathers swirl around its body as if perfectly placed by a painter, or feather-stylist. I think it has a pink eye, too, from what I can tell in the photographs.

It made me sad, in a way, to see it standing alone as flamingos are gregarious wading birds. In other words, they love to socialize in large flocks, standing along the seashore, hanging out with their friends. I think this one is a Chilean Flamingo because it has gray legs and pink knees. If I am correct, and it is a Chilean Flamingo, its species is considered Near Threatened, most likely to human encroachment and habitat destruction, which are the two main reasons animal species are threatened, but flamingos are also threatened due to egg harvesting by humans.

No one really knows why flamingos stand on one leg, but in the pictures I have posted beside this blog, you can see the second leg tucked underneath. They eat shrimp and algae. They are usually about five feet tall, weigh six to seven pounds, and have a wingspan of 55 to 65 inches.

It is possible this flamingo is not alone. I plan to call the hotel tomorrow and try to find out more information about the animal and its care. It looked healthy and very content, but I am curious as to whether or not it has a mate. If it does have a mate, the mate could very well have been hiding in the gardens somewhere.

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