Flamingos are a tall, wading bird that can be found in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe. There are four species of flamingo that are native to the Americans and two other species that are found throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. They are usually associated with exotic, tropical environments, but some species of flamingo prefer temperate conditions. Flamingos are very social birds and will often live in large colonies that can number into the thousands. Two common characteristic of the flamingo are its pink coloring and its ability to stand for long periods of time on one leg. So, why are Flamingos pink? Read this article to discover the answer.
Why are flamingos pink?
Flamingos can range in color from pale pink to vibrant red. The vibrancy of the color depends largely on the health of the flamingo. Flamingos gain their pink coloring from the aqueous bacteria and beta carotene that they ingest through their food. The main diet of the flamingo is brine-shrimp and blue-green algae. Both these food sources contain high amounts of beta carotene. The liver of the flamingo breaks down the beta carotene into pink and orange pigments which are deposited into the feathers, bill and legs of the bird. If a flamingo is not eating the right diet it may appear pale pink or even white in color. Flamingos that eat a large amount of algae will have a more vibrant and deep color than Flamingos that feed mainly on creatures such as shrimp. Flamingo that are kept in captivity often do not have access to the food sources they need to maintain vibrant orange, pink and red coloring. Zoo keepers have rectified this by adding canthaxanthin to their diet.