Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The abrupt downward bend in a flamingo's bill seems strange when the bird's head is raised, almost giving the appearance of a perpetual frown. But if you turn the frown upside down, you get a great smile and that's exactly what a flamingo does. A flamingo holds its head and bill upside down as it feeds. The top of the downward curved portion of its bill is held near the bottom. With its bill just slightly open, it uses its very muscular tongue as a pump, pulling water into its mouth where tiny creatures are filtered out by plate-like structures of varying sizes, concentrating the food which the flamingo then swallows. Flamingos can be found around the world in the tropics. There are five species of flamingos and the straining plates in each flamingo species' bills are unique, making each a specialist on foods of a particular size. Ours, the greater flamingo, takes the largest food, including very tiny shrimp-like creatures, algae, and occasionally, the smallest of fishes.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.