Flamingos Can Lose Their Pink Color!

flamingo color
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Flamingos are synonymous with the color pink. Though they don’t hatch with the pink pigment, their diet influences their tint and turns them some variation of the vibrant shade after a few years after hatching.

So, if flamingos don’t hop out immediately sporting their famous pink feathers, is it possible for adult flamingos to lose their pink color? The answer will not surprise parents.

Flamingos Can Lose Their Pink Color!

Believe it or not, flamingos can lose their pink color. Because their diet is what creates the shimmer and tone of their feathers and skin, its color is never locked in. It can always change, and the main culprit behind this is parenthood.

Theoretically, a flamingo could revert back to gray or white if it were either restricted from its preferred food sources or for whatever reason choose to abstain from munching on those tasty morsels, the latter of which would never happen. But when a flamingo is raising a young chick, it drains so much from them - energy wise and giving so much of their food to their offspring - that their pink coloring can dull or disappear. 

So, if you see an adult flamingo that’s looking whiter than you’d expect from the bird, there’s a good chance that’s a mother or father who’s tired out from their little one.

“Flamingos - both male and female - can lose their pink pigments outside of breeding season,” University of Exeter zoologist Dr. Paul Rose told Thomas Ling of Science Focus in April. “That’s because the breeding is so intensive and so much of their food is used for their chicks. During this time their white color basically means, ‘Please leave me alone. I’m a little bit exhausted from breeding - I’ll join in the dancing later.’”

pink flamingo color
Photo by BohganZeleniuk/Shutterstock.com

They Can Get It Back, Right?

Yes, of course. Assuming everything is operated correctly from within, all a flamingo has to do is eat foods rich in beta carotene and not run itself ragged caring for a chick. Once that chick grows up and completes college, the proud parent flamingo is free to return to its preferred pink state.

Okay, Good. That Would Be Sad.

Agreed. What would a flamingo be without its pinkness? A lanky pelican? I’ll leave that one to the scientists.

Does It Take Long for a Flamingo Chick To Become Pink?

It takes a flamingo chick a couple of years to shift from its base gray or white coloring to the gorgeous pink. The chick has to eat enough beta carotene to sway its color toward pink in a big way, and that doesn’t happen overnight.