flamingo spotting on Curacao

Find beautiful pink flamingos on the island of Curaçao

I’m sure you’ve heard about how beautiful flamingos are. They’re cute, right? Well, they’re even cuter in real life. In fact, the island of Curaçao is home to some of the most amazing flamingos in the world. And now you can see them too.

There are many different places here where you can go birdwatching. One of those spots is called the Flamingo Park. Here, you’ll find plenty of flamingos in the shallow waters.
If you want to see more, there’s another great place close by. It’s called Sint Willibrordus. Here, you’ll see both flamingos and egrets. You can easily spot the flamingos because they gather around the roads. If you are lucky, you can see them up close. They’re shy, so don’t approach them or come too close.

One of the places that people often forget to mention are ‘The Zoutpannen in Jan Thiel’. This, by the way, is a great location for a morning or late afternoon walk or run. Here you will find a bunch of flamingos in the wild. While you’re out looking for these animals, you can enjoy the beautiful, soothing and unique surroundings (and burn off a lot of calories for that delicious food and beer you’ll be having later).

Sint Willibrordus and its Flamingos

The town of Sint Willibrordus lies just off Curacao’s western coast. It’s a small town, but with big ambitions. As you approach, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Williwood’ sign on a hill in the distance (a Curaçao twist of the famous Hollywood sign’. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island, since it is a replica of the Hollywood sign, which is located just across the road. At night, it looks like a giant light bulb. You’ll soon pass the old saliñias of Rif-Sient Marie, a former salt-mining plantation. Its former grounds are now a protected habitat for local flamingo species.

Williwood

The most beautiful pink flamingos in the world are found in the village of Williwood on the island of Curacao. 

This is where the famous flamingo reserve is located. There are about 400 flamingos here. They come from South America and live in the area around the Williwood sign.

In 2011 the name of the region was changed from Sint Willibrordus to Willibrordus by a petition of the locals. This is now officially called Williwood. 

Willibrordus is the patron saint of the Netherlands and his feast day is celebrated every year on April 14th. He is one of the four apostles of Jesus Christ. In the village you will find the St. Willibrordus church, dating from 1880.

All you need to know about these beautiful pink flamingos

There are six flamingo species

There are six different types of flamingos: the American (these are the ones that are found on the island of Curaçao) the greater, lesser, James’s, Chilean, and Andean. All flamingos belong to one family called Phoenicopteridae. This family includes ducks, geese, swans, storks, herons, ibises, spoonbills, grebes, cormorants, gulls, terns, kingbirds, orioles, woodpeckers, toucans, parrots, hummingbirds, eagles, owls, falcons, hawks, vultures, kites, buzzards, pelicans, cranes, ostriches, emus, rheas, and penguins.

Flamingos are pink, because of what they eat

Flamingos are one of nature’s most beautiful birds, but their coloration isn’t just a pretty face. Their vibrant hues come from eating a special type of algae called Dunaliella salina. This alga contains specific types of carotenoid pigments, which give flamingos their characteristic pink hue.
The same carotenoid pigmentation occurs in many other animals, including humans. We call it “carotenoid,” and we use it in everything from food coloring to cosmetics.

Flamingo nests are made of mud

The flamingo’s nest is built out of mud, sticks, grasses and twigs. The eggs average about 50 millimeters (2 inches), and weigh anywhere from 2.7 grams to 3.3 grams each. They are laid in May and June, and the female lays up to four eggs per day. She builds her nest in shallow water, usually near shorelines, and covers it with leaves and debris. After she lays the eggs, she returns to the nest every few hours to check on them. If there is no food nearby, she flies off to find some.

Flamingos are monogamous, but sometimes the male will take over the job of building the nest and incubating the eggs. He stands guard while his mate does the rest. When the chicks hatch, both parents feed them. Once they reach maturity, flamingos live up to 25 years.

The flamingo dance

The word “flamingo” is derived from the Spanish flamenco, meaning “to dance wildly,” because flamingos perform strange dances while wading in shallow water.

Each of the six flamingo breeds all perform their own unique dances during mating season. However, they do all share a similar set of steps. These include a preening ritual, followed by a head-throwing move known as ‘fragmenting’. This involves throwing the head sideways from side-to-side. As well as being loud, the head-throws are meant to make sure everyone knows exactly what is happening.

Nena Sanchez Art Gallery – Landhuis Jan Kok

When you’re at the Flamingo home, don’t hesitate to visit the beautiful Landhuis Jan Kok and the Nena Sanchez Art Gallery.

Jan Kok (1680–1748), known as “the father of the Netherlands Antilles,” built his country house in 1730 near the village of Willemstad. He was a wealthy planter and slave owner. His house became the center of social life during the 18th century. In the 19th century it served as a schoolhouse and later as a church.

Today the mansion serves as a museum, art gallery, and workshop for the colorful paintings of Nena Sanchez. Her work can be seen everywhere throughout the island. She paints cheerful landscapes, but she also paints still lifes. 

Did you know that Nena was once crowned Miss Curaçao?

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