Why are Flamingos pink?

Pink Flamingo, Bird, Pen, Fauna

With”That is just the way it is”. Elephants are gray, canaries are yellow, so why should not flamingos be pink? Well, there really is a very good reason.

First of all, young flamingos are not pink, they are gray (like an elephant) for about the first few decades of life, and they turn pink. Not all adult flamingos are pink either, though most are either pink or a shade of red near pink. Of the five species of flamingo in life, the Caribbean flamingo, is truly a very bright crimson red. In general, adult flamingos are red, pink, or somewhere in between. That still begs the question however, “Why are Flamingos Pink”.

Genetics would seem to be the obvious answer, but it is not the best one. There’s the old saying”You are what you eat”, and flamingos are pink due to their diet. If you place a flamingo in captivity, and give it something to eat instead of its usual diet, the bird will so start to lose its coloring, and become more white than pink. The fact that we do not see more white flamingos in zoos is because the zookeepers are careful to provide the flamingos a distinctive flamingo food, containing all the nutrients they would get in their natural habitats.

A flamingo’s diet is high in beta-carotene, the same substance we consume when we eat carrots. Among other things, flamingos eat crustaceans, especially shrimp. Their natural habitat is in shallow lakes and wetlands, where fish have a tendency to thrive. Flamingos also eat algae, another source of beta-carotine and carotenoid pigments (red). When you think of it, somebody who likes carrots and eats a few a day can take on a slightly orange hue for their complexion. That actually happens, and isn’t unhealthy though it may seem so.

, you can honestly say it’s because they eat shrimp. You can go into some detail with the cartenoid piece if you desire, but for our purposes, just saying fish should suffice. Then if you’re pressed, you can cite cartenoids and beta-carotine, as if that’s something everybody should already know!

If the person still doesn’t believe your answer, you can let them know that flamingos also fly and march, two more details about flamingos that are true. We are so used to seeing flamingos from the zoo just standing on one leg (it is the most comfortable way for them to stand), or as lawn ornaments in the area, we forget they’re quite capable of flight, and in fact fly from one place to another in enormous flocks. Insofar as marching is concerned, should you find a group (actually a colony) of flamingos on the floor, and observe them over a period of time, you will eventually see them march. You will know it when you see it.

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