JAN 25, 2018 7:36 AM PST

Why do flamingos eat upside down?


Why do flamingos eat with their heads all wrapped around, you ask? Well, it's a good question and it all has to do with the fact that they're filter feeders. That means that when they walk around in the shallow waters of whatever salty body of water they're in, they're actually mixing up the little animals and nutrients that are in the mud. Flamingos will eat almost anything, from crustaceans, worms, algae, and insects, to organic debris, plant material, and even fish! But how do they gulp up all these goodies?

When a flamingo is feeding it will put its neck down under the water with its mouth essentially upside. It will then close its mouth and force the water through comb-like extensions on its beak using its tongue in order to push the water out while keeping all the food in. Because flamingos have become so good at this upside-down style of eating, if you compare a flamingo's beak to those of other birds, you will notice that they're reversed. In, fact, flamingos are some of the only animals that can move their top jaw while eating. Want to learn more about this unique animal's feeding habits? Watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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