HomeAnimalsFlamingo Facts: Flamingos' feathers turn pink when they eat certain foods.

Flamingo Facts: Flamingos’ feathers turn pink when they eat certain foods.


Flamingos are enormous birds distinguished by their long necks, sticklike legs, and pink or reddish feathers. They are also known as the “pink bird.” Flamingos are the embodiment of the adage “you are what you eat.” Floating in the water, flamingos consume pigments found in algae and crustaceans, giving their feathers pink and crimson colours.

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information-System (ITIS), there are six species of flamingos: the greater-flamingo, lesser-flamingo, Chilean-flamingo, Andean-flamingo, James’ (or puna) flamingo, & American (or Caribbean) flamingo. The greater-flamingo is the largest of the six species.

The greater flamingo stands at the top of the food chain. According to Sea World, it may grow to be 3.9 to 4.7 feet (1.2 to 1.45 meters) tall and weigh up to 7.7 lbs. (3.5 kg) in weight. The lesser flamingo, which is 2.6 feet (80 cm) tall and weighs 5.5 lbs, is the smallest flamingo species (2.5 kg). It is possible to get-as-close as 37 inches (95 cm) to the wingspan of an adult flamingo (150 cm).


American flamingos can be found in the West Indies, the Yucatán Peninsula, the northern part of South America, and the Galapagos Islands, among other places. The Chilean, Andean, and James’ flamingos are found in South America. In contrast, the greater and smaller flamingos can be found in Africa, respectively. Greater flamingos can be found worldwide, including the Middle East and India.

Flamingos are water birds, and as such, they like to dwell in or near lagoons or lakes. These bodies of water are typically saline or alkaline in nature. Even though flamingos are non-migratory in general, changes in climate or water levels in their breeding grounds will drive them to shift, according to Sea World’s information.


According to Sea World, flamingos eat larvae, small insects, blue-green and red algae, molluscs, crabs, small fish, and other small animals. They are classified as omnivores because of their propensity to consume vegetation and meat.

Flamingos are pink because the algae they eat is high in beta carotene. This organic compound contains a reddish-orange pigment that gives them its pink colour. (Beta carotene can be found in a wide variety of plants, but it is particularly abundant in tomatoes, spinach, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and, of course, carrots.) The carotenoids found in the molluscs and crustaceans that flamingos consume are comparable to those found in humans.

The amount of carotenoid in their food varies depending on where they live, which is why American flamingos are often brilliant red and orange. Still, lesser flamingos of the drought-plagued Lake Nakuru in central Kenya are a softer pink.

If a flamingo were to quit eating carotenoid food, its new feathers would begin to come in with a much darker tone. Its reddish feathers would gradually disappear, as shown in the image below. Feathers that have moulted lose their rosy tint.

What a flamingo consumes is determined by the sort of beak it possesses. The deep-keeled bill of the Lesser, James’, and Andean flamingos is referred to as a deep-keeled bill. The majority of what they eat is algae. More giant flamingos, such as the more remarkable, Chilean and American, have shallow-keeled tabs that allow them to feed on insects, invertebrates, and small fish.

Flamingos eat by stirring up the bottom of the lake with their feet and dipping their beaks into the dirt and water to capture whatever they can catch in the process.


Flamingo colonies and flocks are collective nouns that refer to large groups of flamingos. The colony works together to protect one another from predators and provide for the youngsters’ needs.

According to Sea World, it is thought that flamingos are monogamous birds of paradise. Once they have found a mate, they are more likely to remain with that mate. A group-of-flamingos will all mate at the exact moment, resulting in the hatching of all of the offspring simultaneously. According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, pairs will construct nests out of mounds-of-mud, and the female will lay one egg at-a-time.

Each egg is 3 to 3.5 inches (78 to 90 millimetres) in length and weighs 4 to 4.9 ounces, making it slightly larger than a large chicken egg (115 to 140 grams). The egg will hatch in 27 to 31 days, and the resulting chick will weigh only 2.5 to 3.2 ounces when it is fully grown (73 to 90 g). Young people acquire maturity between the ages of 3 and 5 years old.

Flamingo babies are grey or white. The colour of their skin will change to pink within the first couple of years of their lives. A flamingo’s lifespan in the wild is 20 to 30 years, whereas it can live up to 50 years in a zoo.

This month, there were two cute and lovely flamingo chicks born in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The newborn birds were the 100th and 101st flamingo chicks to hatch in the Bird House of the San Diego Zoo. Because hand-reared flamingo chicks have a higher chance of surviving, zookeepers are putting the babies out of the spotlight for the time-being to ensure their survival. Officials with the Smithsonian Institution say the birds will eventually join the zoo’s herd of flamingos outside when they reach maturity. The World’s Cutest Baby Wild Animals, a related gallery, may be found here. Photograph courtesy of Madelyn Duhon/Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo


Conservation Status

According to the Red-List of Threatened Species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, no flamingo species is currently endangered. According to the International-Union for Conservation of Nature, the smaller Chilean and James’ flamingos are near endangered because their populations are small or declining.

Other facts

According to Sea World, fossil evidence indicates that the group flamingos developed are pretty old and existed approximately 30 million years ago, long before many other avian groups had evolved.

Flamingos tend to stand on one foot for reasons that aren’t fully understood. Still, it has been speculated that keeping one of their feet out of the chilly water allows them to store body heat more effectively. In addition, it appears to be a comfortable resting position for them.

Despite the common misconception that flamingos are tropical birds, they can survive and thrive in frigid climates if they have access to lots of water and food.

According to the Philadelphia Zoo, more than 1 million flamingos have been observed congregating in East Africa, becoming the world’s largest known flock.



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