The American flamingo is a large wading bird with reddish-pink plumage. Most of its plumage is pink, giving rise to its earlier name of rosy flamingo and differentiating adults from the much paler greater flamingo. The wing coverts are red, and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink and white with an extensive black tip. The legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking. The American flamingo has adapted to its shallow-water environment in several ways. It has evolved long legs and large webbed feet to wade and stir up the bottom of the water bed to bring up their food source to then be retrieved. In P. ruber, the kidney, the lower gastrointestinal tract, and the salt glands work together to maintain the homeostasis between ions and fluids. In mammals, the kidneys and urinary bladder are the primary organs used in osmoregulation. Birds, however, lack a urinary bladder and must compensate using these three organs. Their life expectancy of 40 years is one of the longest in birds.
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