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The world of the Caribbean flamingo

Step into the colourful world of the Caribbean flamingo in Mexico's Yucatán region, with breathtaking photography from Claudio Contreras Koob, who spent years gaining the birds' trust in order to capture these intimate portraits.

Caribbean flamingo adults guarding chick
Published: March 14, 2022 at 9:00 am
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With their dramatic colouring and elegant posture, flamingos lend themselves well to being very photogenic subjects. But Contreras Koob’s intimate images and depth of understanding of the birds and their lives offers a fascinating glimpse into the little-seen world of these most striking of birds.

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With breathtaking detail, the book takes us on a journey that follows the lives and lifecycle of the Caribbean flamingo, including insights into their lives, behaviour, and the wetland habitats of the Yucatán in which they dwell.

About Claudio Contreras Koob and Martha A. Salazar

Claudio Contreras Koob © Nature Picture Library
Claudio Contreras Koob © Martha A Salazar

Claudio Contreras Koob is a multi-award winning photographer and a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers. Prior to his photography career, which spans over two decades, he studied biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His most recent photographic expedition has been spent in Socorro Island in Mexico, where he has documented many endemic and endangered species.

Martha A Salazar
Martha A Salazar. © Claudio Contreras Koob

Martha A. Salazar is co-author of Flamingo. She has worked as the editor of several natural history books, and has authored several children's books. She currently works for an initiative that works on projects relating to the natural environment.

About Flamingo

Flamingo is the first photo book to exclusively cover these fascinating birds. This beautiful book showcases the beauty of flamingos, from incredible close-up detail, to panoramic images that show the scale of the colonies against the wild backdrop of Ría Lagartos river delta on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Book credit: Flamingo by Claudio Contreras Koob Image credit: 2022 © Claudio Contreras Koob
Book credit: Flamingo by Claudio Contreras Koob, co-authored by Marta A. Salazar (teNeues Verlag £35) Image credit: 2022 © Claudio Contreras Koob

None of these shots would have been possible without the knowledge and patience of Contreras Koob, who spent more than 10 years building the trust of the flamingo colony in order to get close enough to photograph them at the different stages of their lifecycle. The resulting images are an accurate portrayal of flamingos behaving naturally and undisturbed in the wild.

Playing with colour, light, form and movement, Contreras Koob’s images capture small and intimate moments in the lives of these special birds, sometimes amusing, sometimes endearing, and always beautiful.


To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right-hand corner of the photos below.

Caribbean flamingo by Claudio Contreras Koob
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com

Claudio Contreras Koob began to build his photo portfolio of flamingos in his home country of Mexico more than 10 years ago.

Flamingos taking off
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com

The photographs taken by Contreras Koob are a love letter to this unique bird that combines in-depth expertise with an artistic aesthetic. Here, the birds are about to take off to fly to their roosting site at Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve.

Aerial view of Caribbean flamingos
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com

An aerial view showing flamingos on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Caribbean flamingo flying at dawn
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com

Although there are an enormous number of flamingos, the vastness of the wetlands in Yucatán makes it difficult to track them and predict where they will land.

Caribbean flamingo bathing
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com

The Celestún estuary is a popular place for flamingos and is near the cenotes, underwater water reservoirs that inject fresh water into the middle of a lagoon as if from a spring.

Caribbean flamingos sitting on nests
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com

To incubate their eggs, flamingos build nesting sites in their colonies. They consist of mud cones that must be constantly maintained so that rising water doesn't wash away the eggs.

Caribbean Flamingo preening chick
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com
To keep his chick’s exploratory urges in check, the flamingo tries to restrain his newborn with his feet.
Caribbean Flamingo chick under the wing of protective parent
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com
Soon, I see a little white head peek out of the orange plumage. I imagine that this little creature must think the whole planet is orange.
Caribbean flamingo feeding crop milk to chick
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com
The fluid that feeds the nestling is called crop milk. Both adults produce this secretion in the upper part of the intestine.
Caribbean flamingo adults guarding chick
© Claudio Contreras Koob/naturepl.com
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As they grow, the chicks begin to explore the surroundings of the colony, always under the watchful eye of several adult animals who look after them.

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