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Flamingos are pink, right? Wrong.
Well, not really wrong - normally right, actually. But not always right. Flamingos are generally some shade of pink because of the food they eat, but sometimes they can be white or gray, especially as chicks during their first two-or-so years of life. But it’s possible for them to have even more outlandish coloring: black.
That’s right, there is such a thing as a black flamingo. It’s ultra rare, but sightings of black flamingos happen across the world from time to time.
The Ultra-Rare Black Flamingo
In 2013, a black flamingo was found in Israel, opening the world up to the incredible phenomenon. Two years later, a black greater flamingo was seen at the Akrotiri Environmental Center in Cyprus. Israel and Cyprus aren’t very far from one another, so perhaps they were the same, though that’s quite the long flight over the Mediterranean for a flamingo to take.
While black flamingos are extremely rare, it’s believable that there’s not so rare that there isn’t more than one living on earth.
“The odds of a flamingo being born melanistic (black) are very low, but there are lots of flamingos out there,” Tim Fitzer of the Sacramento Audubon Society told Futurism.
But even if this isn’t the world’s only black flamingo, there can’t be too many out there. These two sightings are the only ones recorded in modern history.
How Does This Happen?
It’s likely that you’ve come across an albino squirrel at some point in your life, especially if you live somewhere with lots of trees. In the same way that albinism can occur naturally in nature, so too can melanism.
Albinism is a recessive trait that can skip over generations before showing up in an offspring, and melanism is no different. The same phenomenon can occur with different coloring, like erythrism (red or orange coloring), xanthism (yellow coloring), and axanthism (absence of yellow coloring).
Flamingos are also far from the only species where melanism occurs, and it has led to some confusion before. For example, “black jaguars” were previously believed to be a different species of the tropical cat, but it has since been learned that they’re simply a melanistic edition of their spotted brethren.
Melanism can be more or less likely in different creatures across the animal kingdom, and it appears that it’s not an especially popular quirk among flamingos. But we do know for certain that it’s possible for flamingos to be melanistic. However, exactly how many are out there in the world isn’t absolutely known.