Why Are Flamingos Pink?


Quick Answer

Flamingos get their pink color from consuming shrimp-like crustaceans. The pink color comes from carotenoids in their diet, which are broken down to pigments by the liver. In captivity, flamingos become pale if their diet is not enhanced. Young flamingos are born gray and white, and it takes them two years to turn pink.

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Full Answer

Flamingos have bent bills and feed on small organisms such as plankton, fly larvae and tiny fish. They use their webbed feet to stir up the bottom and then bury their bills to suck up the mud and the water. The beak has a filter mechanism to separate the food from the water. They filter feed on both brine shrimp and blue-green algae.

Flamingos live and feed in groups called flocks or colonies, which offer them protection from predators. They also breed in groups. After mating, the male and female take turns incubating the egg. The female feeds the young with a type of crop milk secreted by the glands in the upper digestive tract.

These pink birds are found in warm regions of many continents, around estuaries, saline lakes and alkaline lakes. They are excellent swimmers but prefer mud flats where they feed and breed.

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