Why are flamingos pink?
Flamingo Color - Why Are Flamingos Pink?
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** Why Are Flamingos Pink? **
By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., About.com Guide
"Flamingoes get their pink or orange color from the carotenoid pigments
found in the foods they eat."
Flamingoes get their pink or orange color from the carotenoid pigments
found in the foods they eat.
*Question: *Why Are Flamingos Pink?
Have you ever wondered why flamingos are pink or orange? You've probably
heard it has something to do with what flamingos eat, but do you know what
exactly it is that produces the color?
*Answer: *Flamingos are pink or orange or white depending on what they eat.
Flamingos eat algae and crustaceans that contain pigments called
carotenoids. For the most part, these pigments are found in the brine
shrimp and blue-green algae that the birds eat. Enzymes in the liver break
down the carotenoids into the pink and orange pigment molecules deposited
in the feathers, bill, and legs of the flamingos. Flamingos that eat mostly
algae are more deeply colored than birds that eat the small animals that
feed off of algae. Captive flamingos are feed a special diet that includes
prawns (a pigmented crustacean) or additives such as beta-carotene or
canthaxanthin, otherwise they would be white or pale pink. Young flamingos
have gray plumage that changes color according to their diet.
People eat foods containing carotenoids, too. Examples include
beta-carotene in carrots and lycopene in watermelon, but most people do not
eat enough of these compounds to affect their skin color.
· Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
· American Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
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