American Flamingo, Plate CCCCXXXI

Collection Spotlight

American Flamingo, plate CCCCXXXI

The American flamingo is one of six known flamingo species. Also known as the Caribbean flamingo, this bird is closely related to the greater flamingo. The American flamingo is found in the Caribbean, coastal Colombia and Venezuela, and along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. It is also occasionally found in Florida, which is where John James Audubon saw this species for the first time.

This plate shows an adult male in a mudflat, the bird’s preferred feeding grounds. The flamingo’s unique curved bill is hooked downward. The bill also has small lamellae to filter the mud, keeping only the small crustaceans and other invertebrates that make up the bulk of the bird’s diet. These foods are rich in beta-carotene, making the American flamingo’s pink – almost red – plumage brighter than that of other flamingos. Its black-tipped wings can reach a wingspan of 165 cm in adulthood.

The American flamingo lives in colonies of varying sizes, which is why Audubon added eight other flamingos in the background in a variety of positions. The juvenile flamingos can be identified by their grey, white and pale pink plumage.


  • This is Plate CCCCXXXI (431). It includes the scientific name for the American flamingo, Phœnicopterus ruber.
  • The plate is 98.1 cm high and 65.3 cm wide.
  • It was engraved, printed and coloured by R. Havell in 1838.
  • It is part of series No. 87, the last series in the Birds of America collection.
  • The plate also includes a number of views of the flamingo’s bill, tongue and feet, drawn above the flamingo.
  • To accurately depict the size of the American flamingo, which stands between 120 cm and 145 cm tall, Audubon had to paint it bending down to the water, as if it were about to feed.
American Flamingo, plate CCCCXXXI
American Flamingo, plate CCCCXXXI