Why is the flamingo beak unique?
The flamingo has a large beak, with the biggest part on the bottom and the smallest part on the top. The top part is moveable.
This is the reverse, or opposite, of the beak of other birds. Other birds have a larger top part and a smaller, moveable bottom part.
So, why is the flamingo beak unique and reversed?
The flamingo beak is reversed because it feeds with its head upside down. Its long neck reaches the ground, making the beak turn upside down underwater. The rows of bony projections, called lamellae, inside its beak, act like a sieve. When the flamingo moves its beak in water, the lamellae filter its food.
The flamingo tongue is large and muscular. It uses its tongue to move water through the lamellae, capturing its food.
[Location of photographs: Paris Zoo, France]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM