With an archipelago of more than 4,000 islets, Cuba embraces multiple ecosystems, including mangroves, small coastal deserts and rainforests. Such diversity of habitats has given rise to thousands of species that live nowhere else on Earth and have a strong chance of survival: a fifth of the nation is in protected areas.
Some 350 bird species – 21 of which are endemic to the country, including the world's smallest bird, the bee hummingbird – inhabit Cuba, making it a true nature lover's paradise. It is also home to the largest flamingo colony in the Western Hemisphere: some 70,000 nesting Caribbean flamingos inhabit Humedal Rio Maximo-Caguey, one of six areas in Cuba designated as Wetlands of International Importance.
Cuba is making significant efforts to protect the endangered pink flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) which is recovering under the care of the National Center for Protected Areas (CNAP) and the country's Flora and Fauna body. Visitors can discover a treasure trove of biodiversity in sites such as the Caguanes National Park and the Ciénaga de Zapata.
The sight of a beautiful flock of Caribbean flamingos flapping their wings as they suddenly take flight, like flames rising into the sky, from the small swamp at the mouth of the Máximo River in Camagüey, the first of Cuba's eastern provinces, or many other places throughout the island leaves you amazed and enchanted.
The whole island is a treasure trove of biodiversity and varied landscapes, such as the Máximo River, the Aguanes National Park, the Ciénaga de Zapata, the northern and southern keys of Cuba among other areas ; it is home not only to pink flamingos but also to a wide variety of fauna and flora.
The flamingos live near shallow waters, where – if one remains still and silent – they can be seen carrying out their daily activities, fishing peacefully, using their long legs to occasionally dip their black beak into the water and take out some small fish or shellfish.
Fun Fact: Flamingos prefer to eat shrimp, the carotenoid content of which gives flamingos their much-admired deep pink color.
An interesting fact about this unique bird is that it usually sleeps or rests upright, propped up on one leg with the other tucked under its wings, where its head also nestles.
In Cuba there are currently colonies of pink flamingos in Cayo Coco and in the coastal marshes south of Santa Lucía beach in Camagüey and these locations are definitely worth a visit.
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