Flamingoes come in shades anywhere from pale pink to crimson because of their diet. Geographically, Chilean flamingoes tend to be the palest and Caribbean ones tend to have the most intense colored feathers. The color comes from the flamingos’ diet, which is high in alpha and beta-carotene (we ingest this when eating carrots). Their diet consists mainly of diatoms, seeds, algae, crustaceans, and mollusks.
Flamingoes turn pink because a primary component of their diet (shrimp) are have a high level of carotenoids (like the carotene in carrots, but red instead of orange). Chemicals in the flamingo’s body break this compound down, and when it mixes with their unique stomach acids it basically becomes a kind of red ink that is absorbed into their skin and from there into their feathers.
Depending on how a unique organism interacts with carotenoids, they can manifest as a red, orange, pink, yellow, or even green ink which lends a tint to the overall surface area of that organism.
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