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Flamingos and their famous pink coloring are synonymous with one another, but what color are flamingos when they’re born?
It takes a couple of years for flamingo chicks to transition into pink tints, and they don’t hatch out of their eggs dripping the shade their species is so well-known for.
What Color Are Flamingos When They’re Born?
When flamingos are born, their color is gray, white, or some kind of combination of the two. They are distinctly not the pink color that they generally grow up to display.
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The reason flamingos aren’t immediately pink is because chicks haven’t yet had the opportunity to eat the foods that paint these birds pink. Most of the foods that flamingos across the world feast on are full of beta carotene, a red-orange pigment also known as carotenoids. After a meal, these beta carotenes are absorbed into the liver, and those fats are deposited into their feathers and skin. Repeat this process after most lunches and dinners over the course of years, and you’ve got yourself a pink bird.
So, when a flamingo chick is born, it doesn’t have close to enough carotenoids pumping through its system to have the majestic pink feathers like its parents. It takes some time for it to happen, and the change is gradual, but most properly-fed flamingos will shift to some shade of pink eventually.
Could an Adult Flamingo Become Gray or White Again?
If flamingo chicks start gray or white and eventually become pink via diet, then could an adult flamingo who was pink revert back to gray or white if it wasn’t able to find food with enough beta carotenoids? Yes.
If an adult flamingo couldn’t find enough or wasn’t fed enough food with beta carotenoids to munch on, then its pink color would slowly fade. Similarly, if a flamingo chick were never exposed to nurishment with carotenoids with the necessary red-orange pigment, then it would grow up to remain the same gray or white color it hatched with.
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There are times when flamingo parents will lose some or all of their pink coloring during breeding season. So much time, energy, and food can go toward mating, laying an egg, hatching the egg, and carrying for the new young that parents can fade back to a gray or white coloring. Basically, if you see a white or gray adult flamingo, it’s probably an exhausted and worn-out parent.