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Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Are Flamingos Pink?


Nearly everyone knows what flamingos look like —pink birds with long legs. You can see them at just about every zoo. You can find them in storybooks.





Images of flamingos, standing under palm trees, appear in paperweights and snow globes. Plastic flamingos make colorful lawn ornaments!! But did you know that some flamingos live high up in the Andes Mountains of South America? Flamingos can swim, and flamingos can fly.
Ornithologists (scientists who sturdy birds) spent many years arguing whether flamingos are more like ducks, or more like storks, until they decided that flamingos belong in a group by themselves. Yeah But Why are flamingos pink?

Why are they pink?

Flamingo feathers obtain their wonderful rosy pink color from pigments in the organisms they eat. The flamingos’ feathers, legs, and face are colored by their diet, which is rich in alpha and beta carotenoid pigments.
Carotenoids in crustaceans such as those in the flamingo diet are frequently linked to protein molecules, and may be blue or green. After being digested, the carotenoid pigments dissolve in fats and are deposited in the growing feathers, becoming orange or pink. The same effect is seen when shrimp change color during cooking. The amount of pigment laid down in the feathers depends on the quantity of pigment in the flamingo’s diet. An absence of carotenoids in its food will result in new feather growth that is very pale; the existing pigment is lost through molting.
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