Five Fantastic Flamingo Fun Facts!

flamingo fun facts

Flamingos are one of the most entrancing and interesting pieces of life on this planet. Known for its pink plumage, one-legged pose, and a preference for the tropical, the fabulous fowl is a popular animal among Americans and beyond. Those characteristics only scratch the surface of what makes flamingos such unique and charismatic creatures.

For years now, I have covered every corner I could of the beautiful bird in this blog. I have written about so many flamingo facts and absorbed so much information from my research that I have become a fountain of knowledge on anything flamingo. Some might say I know too much about the fabulous fowl. I say there is always more to know.

That’s why I have put together five fun facts about flamingos that I think are the most interesting and important for hard-core fans and casual observers alike to store in their minds. Some of you may already know some of the facts listed in this article. To others, it will all be news. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, enjoy the education. 

Let’s celebrate the fabulous fowl together!

Flamingos Are Born Gray

Or white. But the point is, they don’t start out pink.

Flamingo feathers are not naturally pink. They become pink, or some other similar shade, over time after the bird has feasted on enough meals full of beta carotene. The red-orange pigment can be found in many staples of the flamingo diet, like algae and shrimp. It can take a couple of years until a flamingo chick fully transforms into a pink adult.

This quirk is also why flamingos aren’t all the same hue of pink. Some have a brighter, fuller color, which generally reflects eating healthily and plentifully. Some have a duller, less-filled color, which may indicate that food hunts are not going according to plan as much as the bird would like. Other variations can be attributed to the local cuisine.

Flamingos Wear Makeup

You read that right. Don’t be confused - they don’t wear makeup like you might. No flamingos are covering their beaks in lipstick. The animal has its own version that serves a similar purpose, but with a quite different execution.

It is common for humans to apply makeup to themselves in an attempt to look better and perhaps attract a mate. Flamingo beautification has the same goal. The biggest difference, though, is that flamingo makeup is all natural and self-produced.

What the bird does is rub excretions from their uropygial gland onto their beak and cheeks, then spread it around their feathers to enhance their pinkness. Basically, they take

As we established earlier, the foods that flamingos eat is what turns their plumage pink. Therefore, their waste is full of the carotenoid pigment that causes their coloration. With an extra coat or two, flamingos can shine even brighter, thus making themselves even more attractive to potential mates.

If you are a human aiming to entice other humans your way, I do not recommend taking advice from a flamingo. Stick to traditional, human cosmetics. Also, emotional availability is good.

Flamingo Can Withstand Almost Boiling Water

They can walk in it, they can hang out in it, and they can dunk their heads inside it and stick their tongues out. Flamingos can take some seriously high temperatures.

The best examples can be found at Lake Natron in Tanzania. The alkaline lake is teeming with delectables. The only way to get to all that nutrition is route one: directly into the belly of the beast.

That would bother me and you, but flamingos aren’t phased. Their legs are armored with special scales that keep their interior protected, and flamingo tongues are incredibly tough. These adaptations have been big boons to the fabulous fowl over the generations. Because too many other animals can reach the regions that flamingos can, there isn’t much competition for food in the area, meaning more for the whole flamboyance.

Don’t let their appearance fool you - flamingos are hard.

Flamingos Sleep Standing on One Leg

Flamingos famously remain upright thanks to one leg at a time. The bird’s one-legged stance is synonymous with its image in the popular zeitgeist.

And for good reason. It’s pretty unique. It’s also useful. The exact purpose for this practice is unknown, but researchers have discovered a few benefits the bird gains by standing on one leg. 

First, it stands to reason that tucking one leg into their bodies helps flamingos conserve heat and energy, which is nice both while hanging out and sleeping. Researchers at Zoo Atlanta found that flamingos fall asleep easier on one leg than two, plus they remain more sturdy while asleep if on a single stem as opposed to two trunks.

I have difficulty sleeping on my back, but these birds don’t even need to lay down. I’m envious.

Flamingos Filter Salt Out of Their Noses

It’s not good for most of earth’s creatures to digest mass amounts of salt. Count flamingos in as one of the many. But these birds are often spending their time in bodies of water saturated with salt, and that’s where their food lives. Plus, flamingos get thirsty, too, and freshwater can’t always be found.

The fabulous fowl has supraorbital glands that function like a kidney to separate the salt out of their bloodstream. The salt is kicked out of the body through the nostrils.

flamingo facts

So drink away, flamingos. Chug saltwater until your pretty pink hearts are content. Chow down on the feasts hidden within the water’s depths, too. Don’t worry, whatever extra salt your body doesn’t need, it will get rid of as if it’s mucus. Isn’t nature wild?

Don’t get any ideas, though. You are not a flamingo. You will not sweat the salt through your nose. Your heart and kidneys will be less forgiving. Sorry, hopefully you can be a flamingo in your next life and experience firsthand the joys of internal salt filtration.