Two pink flamingos highlighted in blue and purple fantasy lighting, taken at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other leg tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Recent research indicates that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water.
However, the behavior also takes place in warm water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.
Young flamingos hatch with grayish reddish plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-Carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished.
Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.
February 21st, 2014
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