With its distinctive pink colouring and one-legged stance, the flamingo is possibly the most easily recognized bird in the world. But what most of us don’t know is that there are actually six different species of flamingo, each differing in size and hue, and despite excellent fossil records, scientists have, until recently, had a difficult time positioning the flamingo within the avian genetic tree. Flamingo untangles the scientific research on this unusual bird and looks at its role in popular culture and the arts through the ages, from the croquet mallet in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the flocks of pink plastic birds on lawns across the U.S.
Flamingo introduces the history of the bird, its behaviour and habitats and discusses why it has become such an iconic animal. It reveals how the birds get their extraordinary colour, and details the significance they have had in world cultures, whether as a spiritual totem or a commercial symbol of the tropical life.
Flamingo provides valuable insight into just what makes this flashy-feathered character so special.
‘this new title from the brilliant Animal series does for the Flamingo what it has done for other birds. It brings together in an informative and entertaining way a diverse array of facts about the bird’s biology (including its intricate bill structure), behaviour, its place in human cultural history, and what the future holds for it . . . their future is by no means certain. Habitats are degraded in many ways . . . But schemes like BirdLife International’s ‘Think Pink’ campaign keep these ‘gawky yet glamorous’ birds in the public eye, and beautifully balanced books like this one help by showing what a fascinating bird the Flamingo is.’ – BTO News
‘This volume, just like the others in the series, has a well-written text and fantastic, somewhat unexpected illustrations which illuminate the place of this animal in our world; a book that also considers it important to deal with the role of a bird as a controversial plastic garden ornament testifies to the intellectual breadth of these volumes . . . the publisher has chosen authors who evidently dare to go the whole hog. Readers with an interest in animals and culture cannot be anything but grateful. For those who want to learn more about different animals, the Reaktion Books Animal Series is a must. This is cultural history at its most enjoyable.’ – Yearbook of the Swedish Linnaean Society
Caitlin R. Kight is Communications and Marketing Manager for the University of Exeter's Cornwall Campuses and an editor and writer for Current Conservation.