Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eating Upsidedown



I’m Flo Flamingo and I come from the genus and species, Phoenicopterus ruber. Try saying that three times in a row. I like to stand on one foot and balance for hours on end. When I walk, you might think I’ve dislocated my thin legs, but it’s more effective and of course more graceful. I think I’m the most beautiful bird in the world, especially with my pleasing pink colors.



Painters from Europe have tried to paint me, but really it’s best to watch me with your own eyes. If you are lucky, you’ll have the opportunity to see me fly. That’s when I’ll show you my black feathers. I look so exquisite in the air that often the ancient Inca Gods emerge from the clouds to catch a glimpse of me.



My family and friends used to congregate in the salty lagoons near the town of Puerto Villamil in Isla Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos. A few years ago there were hundreds of frogs who also lived in the ponds and they started eating all of our food. You see, the tasty shrimp helps keep our pink color and there isn’t enough in the lagoon. So the scientists tried to do something to help us out, but they messed up. They put caffeine in the water to eradicate the frogs. But we didn’t like the taste of caffeine either. Yuck! I don’t understand why anyone would like caffeine – I guess those human coffee addicts don’t know any better.

Many of my friends and family flew away to another home because of the caffeine. I decided to stick around for a number of reasons. First, I was born here in a little muddy nest near that mangrove right over there . And second, I don’t want to leave because of this little girl named Isla who comes to visit me every day. We don’t talk but I like to look at her large green eyes and she can look into my piercing white and black eyes.

Isla always laughs when I eat. You see, I eat with my head upside down. First, I stomp my feet to stir up the mud and then I filter the food in my mouth. Isla tried to eat her cheese empanada that way, but she couldn’t swallow very well and pieces of bread trickled out of her mouth. She lacks a special beak like mine. My beak is specially designed to filter the shrimp and other small shelled fish from the mud and silt at the bottom of the lagoon. This only works if I submerge my head beneath the water such that it is under my belly. Oh I think I feel something good to eat. Come back and visit me, but don’t try eating upside down.

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