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What bird has the largest and fleshiest Tongue?

The Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus – has the largest and fleshiest tongue.

The Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus - is the most widespread flamingo. It is found in Africa, Southern Asia and Southern Europe. The preferred habitat is mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons. It is the state bird of Gujarat, India.


This is the largest species of flamingo. Most of the plumage is pinkish-white, but the wing coverts are red and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. They have long, lean, curved necks and black-tipped bills with a distinctive downward bend.

The bill is pink and the legs are entirely pink. Their bent bills allow them to feed on small organisms—plankton, tiny fish, fly larvae, etc. In muddy flats or shallow water, they use their long legs and webbed feet to stir up the bottom. They then bury their bills, or even their entire heads, and suck up both mud and water to access the tasty morsels within. A flamingo's beak has a filter-like structure to remove food from the water before the liquid is expelled. Shrimplike crustaceans are responsible for the flamingo's pink color.


Greater Flamingos have a loud, deep honking call that is similar to that of a goose. They call loudly during courtship but they have a quieter call while they are feeding.


It mainly eats small invertebrates, such as brine shrimps (Artemia), brine flies (Ephydra), molluscs and diatoms, foraging by holding its bill upside down in waist-high water. Its large tongue pumps water in and out, while small filaments at the edge of its bill filter out food.


Greater flamingos also breed while gathered in groups. Egg-laying season starts in November, peaking from January-February. Once mating is complete, a pair takes turns incubating their single chalky-white egg for roughly 27 to 31 days. The nest built mainly by the male is a mud mound. The chicks are brooded for the first 3 to 4 days of their lives, leaving the nest at 5 to 10 days old to join a crèche. They are fed by both parents with a glandular secretion and take first flight at about 75-80 days old. Young flamingos are born gray and white and do not turn pink for two years. In years when wetlands and pools are dry and food scarce, flamingoes may not breed.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

Not threatened globally, although Near-threatened in South Africa and Vulnerable in Namibia, largely due to lowering water tables at major breeding sites and collision with power lines.


These striking birds can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

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