Friday, August 20, 2010

Flamingo Friday: A Strainer Among Us


It occurred to me recently that flamingos are the whales of the bird world. No, they’re not the largest of all birds. No, they’re not marine. No, they don’t breach. –Stop second-guessing me, will you?

They’re the whales of the bird world because they, like baleen whales, are filter feeders. Their bizarre, upside-down-looking beaks allow them to dip their bills in shallow water and make it turbid, stirring up everything from bit of algae to tiny crustaceans. Then they take this whole muddy soup into their mouths and proceed to expel the water.


All the creatures and particles that they eat stay in their mouths because the inside of their beaks are full of ridges that capture the non-liquid elements. Then they use their tongues, which apparently have little hooks on them, to rasp all the good stuff off of the inside of their bills and swallow it.


[the ridges in its bill are visible]


See? Just like whales. Only with ridges instead of baleen, and I don’t know what the tongue-hooks correspond to. But otherwise it’s a perfect analogy, thank you very much.

[& of course, there's always one
that gets really carried away
by the whole process...]

1 comment:

Anca said...

Great title and fantastic images. I can't imagine how you caught the serrations in the beak.

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