Why are Flamingos Pink?

Young flamingos feeding by a lake.

Imagine turning the color of the food you eat! Flamingos are birds that turn pink because of the food in their diet. Flamingo chicks are born with white and gray feathers. By the time they are two years old, they start to turn pink. The foods they eat contain pigment. Pigment gives things color. Young flamingos turn pink because the algae and shrimp they eat contain pigments that produce shades of red. The more shrimp they eat, the brighter pink they become.

Flamingos are tall birds. They have long stilt-like legs and long necks. They use their legs to wade in the water, where they spend most of their time. Flamingos can stand on one leg for hours! When flamingos eat, they turn their heads upside down to scoop up mud and water. Their mouths have special filters that separate mud from food.

A colony of flamingos in flight!

Even though flamingos are larger than most birds, they can fly. However, they need a running start to gain enough speed to get off the ground. Whether you see flamingos in the air or on the ground, they are never alone.  Flamingos are social birds. They live in large groups called colonies. Some colonies can have hundreds of flamingos!

What Do You Think?    How long can you stand on one leg?

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Photo Credit: (t)Rodrigo A Torres/Glow Images, (b)imagebroker/Alamy