Written by Nihal Singh Dhingra, a grade 10 student.
The adage (saying) “you are what you eat” holds true for flamingos!
What are Flamingos?
Flamingos are a type of wading bird.
Here are some great facts about this lovely bird..
- The word flamingo is derived from a Spanish word meaning, “flame-colored”.
- This long-legged bird is not born pink in colour. They are born grey or white and turn pink over a couple of years.
- Flamingos get their pink color from their food.
- Flamingos are known to be filter feeders, meaning they trap food in their mouths and filter the water out. They eat with their heads upside-down.
- A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance.
What gives the Flamingos their colour?
Beta-carotene, a red-orange pigment is the main reason behind the pink color of the flamingos. The food that these birds eat is rich in beta-carotene. Their diet consists of algae, brine fly larvae, and brine shrimp, which are found in abundance in the wetland region, where these birds flock.
The enzymes in the digestive tract, break down the beta-carotene into pigments that are then absorbed by the fats in the liver and deposited in the feathers and skin, giving them pink color. This also explains why some flamingos are brighter in color than others. The explanation lies in their diet intake.
Beta-carotene is the same pigment that is found in carrots, but for humans to turn pink, lots and lots of carrots need to be added to their diet.
Flamingos might not be born pink, but their pink colour is their trademark which makes them so beautiful and a marvel of nature!
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