Whom might Fleming and Flora be?

If these elegant avians look unfamiliar, perhaps you’ve never seen the intro theme for Miami Vice?

I have always adored Flamingoes, ever since I was a child and saw the African species drawn in the original Babar books. Fleming and Flora happen to be Phoenicopterus ruber —the species found in the Caribbean islands and Mexico (and, of course, Miami Vice).

There are six Flamingo species in all: two found in Africa and the remaining three in South America.

The very color of Flamingoes is exotic and exciting, isn’t it? Perhaps, then, you won’t be surprised to learn their English common name comes from the Portuguese or Spanish flamengo, meaning “flame colored.”

You might expect from their anatomy that Flamingoes are related to Egrets and Herons, and some ornithologists assumed so for many years, while others argued they were more closely related to Ibises and Roseate Spoonbills, or perhaps to Ducks and Geese.

The Duck connection seemed clinched by the fact that the same species of louse (yuck) afflicts some Ducks and Flamingoes alike.

But surprise! Although a study as recent as 2002 concluded they were waterfowl, another, comprehensive taxonomic study In 2014 has concluded that Flamingoes are most closely related to…

Doves! So the next time you see a Mourning Dove snooping about on the ground for spilt bird seed, try to imagine her ten times taller, with flaming red-orange feathers!

How would Fleming and Flora greet this news? Gracefully, no doubt.

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