THERE are round 200,000 flamingos on this planet, with the six completely different species present in wetlands in Asia, Africa, southern Europe, and the Americas.
However have you ever ever puzzled simply how these vibrant, long-legged birds get their distinctive pink colouring?
Flamingos get their distinctive pink color from their eating regimen of primarily shrimpCredit score: Alamy
Why are flamingos pink?
Flamingos are greatest identified for the flamboyant spectrum of pink, crimson and orange colors on their legs, faces and beaks.
And it seems that flamingos get their unusual colouring because they are what they eat – particularly, shrimp, shell-fish, and algae.
A big a part of a flamingo’s eating regimen is made up of crimson and blue-green algae – in addition to the fishy a part of their eating regimen – all of which accommodates beta carotene, which has a red-orange pigment known as carotenoid.
Their digestive system breaks down the carotene, then the red-orange pigment is damaged down of their liver and absorbed into fat.
Some flamingos are a a lot paler pink if they’ve fed quite a lot of milk to their younger Credit score: Tropical Islands
Subsequent the fat are deposited in cells of their pores and skin, feathers and beaks, giving them their spectacular colors.
Zoos replicate the wild eating regimen for flamingos in captivity, generally including in pigment pellets, to maintain the birds brightly colored.
Different birds, akin to spoonbills and pink ibis, additionally depend on carotenoids for colouring, and salmon change into pink-coloured this manner too.
Carotenoid can be present in carrots, candy potatoes and spinach.
Flamingo chicks are born a boring gray color – and change into extra vibrant over time owing to their eating regimen and being fed crop milk by their moms Credit score: Caludio Contreras Koob / 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Yr
Why are some flamingos not pink?
Flamingos flip pink as a result of they eat algae shrimps and crustaceans wealthy in carotenoid, which they filter out of the water by their hooked beaks.
This implies flamingos aren’t born vibrant – as an alternative, hatchlings are born with boring, grey-coloured feathers.
Dad or mum flamingos feed their chicks a nutritious pink substance they make of their throat, known as crop milk.
Flamingos who’re dad and mom can change into very pale pink, even white, by the top of the breeding season, as a result of they’ve used up their reserves making crop milk for his or her younger.
Flamingos are uncommon amongst birds for making crop milk.
Flamingos’ colouring varies relying on the place they stay – with these in drier climates tending to be extra paleCredit score: Jolpicture/AGORA Photographs
And never all flamingos are pink – it could possibly differ relying on the place they stay.
As an illustration, within the Caribbean, flamingos are usually a extra flame-like crimson or orange color, whereas these from drier areas are often a lot paler.
A uncommon black flamingo, which will get its color from a excessive manufacturing of melanin, has been noticed in Cyprus.
However elsewhere, reviews of a blue flamingo in South America are considered false.
Flamingos are native to Africa, Asia, southern Europe, and the AmericasCredit score: Instagram
Why do flamingos change color?
Grey flamingo chicks step by step change into pink, first from the crop milk they’re fed by their dad and mom, and later from the high-carotenoid flamingo eating regimen of algae and shell fish.
The extra carotenoid-rich the flamingos eating regimen. the extra orange-red their color turns into.
This implies a flamingo’s color would possibly change if its eating regimen varies over its pure lifespan of 30-odd years.
Flamingos who lack carotenoid of their eating regimen will step by step lose their color by malting and regular cell dying, and these might be changed with paler feathers, pores and skin and beak cells.
Flamingos can generally change into pale within the solar, as a result of carotenoids might be bleached out.
One species of flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus, secretes a pink pigment from their glands when preening so even bleached feathers keep shiny pink.