What do flamingos eat

The flamingo, with the scientific name Phoenicopterus roseus , is one of the most beautiful birds in the world and possibly the most spectacular aquatic bird that lives in wetlands, as well as the most peculiar and the most admired for its elegant gait.

What do pink flamingos eat

To answer this question, we will start with another question: are flamingos omnivores? The answer is yes, they are animals with a very varied diet, which includes:

  • Insects .
  • Worms
  • Prawns.
  • Plankton .
  • Salaries .
  • Cyanobacteria.
  • Crustaceans .
  • Fish .
  • Mollusks .
  • Fly larvae.
  • Pieces of vegetation.

Once we have talked about the diet of adult flamingos, we wonder what flamingo babies eat . These animals feed their young with crop milk , which although it is called milk, it is not in itself, since it is a question of birds , but it would be the equivalent of the mother’s milk of mammals.

This milk is made up of food that adults take and the substances they produce in the crop. Thus, this very complete substance is secreted by the epithelial lining of the crop, located in the upper area of ​​the digestive tract, of males and females, and they regurgitate it to feed the chicks . Specifically, this substance is very rich in fats, proteins, antioxidants and stimulating factors of the immune system.

What do flamingos eat to be pink

As its species name indicates, roseus , which in Latin means “rose”, one of the characteristics that stands out the most about these animals is their pink color, although it can sometimes vary between red and orange as well. This characteristic is also supported by its common name “flamingo” which derives from the Old Spanish for “flaming” or “red feather”. But what gives flamingos the color pink? Well, the answer to this question lies in the feeding of flamingos , although it is not synonymous with the fact that flamingos are pink because they eat pink things.

The explanation is due to the fact that a large part of the foods that make up their diet are rich sources of carotenoids , among them, canthaxanthin and astaxanthin, a chemical compound commonly present in nature that is broken down in the flamingo’s liver and, subsequently, it disperses towards the feathers, beak and legs of the animal, giving rise to this peculiar tonality of the animal. In fact, a more pink and luminous tone indicates that the flamingo is eating well and is healthy, in addition to that, therefore, it is potentially more desired as a couple. Neither flamingos nor any other animal can produce carotenoids, but some animals can transform them; flamingo, for example, converts zeaxanthin and b-carotene from algaein canthaxanthin and astaxanthin. Algae present these carotenoids in abundance, since they produce them themselves, especially in conditions of high light and salinity, and it helps them protect themselves from environmental stress. In addition, there are other pink or reddish pigments that are not due to plant carotnoids that are found in small animals, such as some crustaceans that these birds feed on (for example, brine shrimp ).

What do flamingos eat in captivity

However, in zoos or other breeding grounds for these animals in captivity, it is often observed that these animals have lost that color or have a duller pink color. So what do flamingos eat in the salt flats and in captivity? Well, in the salt flats, which is one of the places where they live in freedom, they feed as we have explained, but in captivity their diet varies, since they are basically fed with granules of prepared food and these do not contain carotenoids Responsible for their coloring, taking into account that flamingos cannot produce them either, what was done was adding these chemical compounds to both the water and the food they ate to keep them pink.

 

These are the main characteristics of flamingos :

  • Flamingos have a unique figure, with long legs and a long, curved neck.
  • They have a remarkable size, being able to reach 1.2 meters in height, a wingspan of 1.5 meters high and a weight that goes from 2 to 4 kg, being the males larger and heavier than the females.
  • They have a pink hue that contrasts with the black color of their flight feathers (12 in particular), only noticeable when these animals spread their wings.
  • With a small, spindle-shaped head, the beak of flamingos is semi-sloping and is uniquely adapted for filter feeding by water prey; Furthermore, the shape of its beak is not shared by any other family of birds.

Where does the pink flamingo live

Flamenco is typical of tropical and subtropical areas , such that it is found in several countries in South America, including Peru, Argentina and Bolivia, as well as in areas of Central America (Cuba, Bahamas and Yucatan Peninsula) and some regions of Africa and the Iberian Peninsula.

This animal is commonly seen in many of the humid Mediterranean and South Atlantic coastal enclaves, or even in salt flats and inland lagoons, typically frequenting areas that are not easily accessible to people and other animals. Typically, they are found in lakes , coastal lagoons, marshes , estuaries , mangrove areas , tidal flats, or even sand islands that remain in intertidal areas. Their habitat is usually always surrounded by shallow salty, brackish and alkaline waters , that is, in wetlands .

Curiosities of flamingos

As a curious fact, surely, you have ever seen flamingos sleep on one leg and you have wondered why they are in this position. Well, this is because these animals have a great ability to maintain balance with little effort. In fact, with this position they use the same energy as if they used both legs. All this is given by the “stopping device”, which consists in that when the flamingos are positioned on a single leg, it locks the legs in a specific position, so that muscles and ligaments are activated that prevent the animal from destabilize and allow you to enjoy balance without having to make a conscious effort to maintain it. Another curious fact is that flamingos often rest their heads on their bodies to avoid fatigue in the muscles of his long neck.

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