Monday, May 19, 2008

Pink Flamingos

You have probably seen flamingos in the zoo. Perhaps you have been to Florida and have laughed at many residents whose plastic ones adorn their yards, like I have. Ah, but that has all changed. I have been living in the Yucatán Peninsula of México and have been to the biosphere reserves and seen thousands of bright pink flamingos wading in the water. I have learned why they are pink, where they live and what they eat, and I think they are fascinating.

I read that the Yucatán boasts the most colorful species of flamingo. The biosphere around Celestún surrounds the Ría Celestún forming perfect shallow water habitats, lots of brackish water and plenty of mangrove. It is the red mangrove, in fact, that causes the flamingo to develop its rosy hue. The birds eat algae, shrimp and seeds they filter out of the water. The food they eat is full of carotene which in turn gives them color. The water in the lagoon of the biosphere is so red that my photo looks more like lava than cool water.

To see the flamingos at Celestún one has to hire a boat either under the bridge or at the beach. The birds keep themselves tucked back into numerous bays, and when the boat zooms into an area full of them it is a sight to behold! They can often be seen in the lagoons on both sides of the main road simply driving from Progreso east toward Dzilam Bravo on the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. Our guide told us the same flamingos spend half the year at Celestún and the other half at Dzilam Bravo, at the second Yucatecan biosphere. I cannot confirm or deny that as I haven’t been here long enough to see any migratory behavior. I have been to the biospheres a few times so far, plan to return, and when I learn new and amazing facts, I will be sure to tell you about them.

Meanwhile, after a trip to the pueblo of Ticul in search of pots for some plants, I now am the proud owner of three ceramic flamingos. No, I am not moving to a double wide in Florida, but have to admit I feel happy when I look at the world through rose colored birds.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hey Lin! Flamingos, eh? OK, but if you someday get one of those wooden birds with the whirligig wings on a post, I'm coming to rescue you! Remember how your mom "loved" those? I remember when RJ bought her first house, Bruce and I kindly and anonymously decorated her front lawn with a flock of plastic flamingos.