"Real Fact" #11

Flamingos turn pink from eating shrimp

(Notes from Mrs. Feldman: April 20th — Tomas and Davis, SPLENDID work so far. At the very end of this piece, please write a short essay about how you went about finding all the information for this fact buster. Also, why are Sea World and Access Science trustworthy sites, as opposed to some other web pages such as a wiki or

Here is a picture of a baby flamingo:
babyflamingo.jpg And here is a picture of an adult flamingo:Flamingos.jpg

So we know flamingos become pink from something…

Is that something shrimp?

From the Sea World website we found out this bit of info:

"A flamingo's pink or reddish feather, leg, and facial coloration come from a diet high in alpha and beta carotenoid pigments, including canthaxanthin. The richest sources of carotenoids are found in the algae and various invertebrates that make up the bulk of a flamingo's diet."

But then on it says this:

"Q: Why are flamingos pink? Could white birds become pink if I feed them with caratenoid food?

A: The pink or rosy plumage in flamingos results from a combination of their genetics, which produces the pigment granules in the feathers, and carotenoids in their food. Hence, zoo personnel have to provide flamingos with special carotenoid-rich shrimp in their diet if these birds are to maintain their natural color. Simply feeding white birds, such as egrets, white ibis, and swans, with a carotenoid-rich diet will not turn their plumage reddish, as these birds lack the genes to produce the pigment cells in their feathers. Moreover, the red color in most birds, such as cardinals, tanagers, and red-tailed hawks, does not depend on their diet."

We know that Access Science and Sea World are reliable because Access Science is an Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, and not a wiki or a site like or Sea World is a dependable source because Sea World is a famous aquarium and their website provides info on the animals they have there, including flamingos.

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