How long does it take for a Flamingo to turn pink

How long does it take for a Flamingo to turn pink

Throughout the growing process of a flamingo chick from its initial drab gray or white plumage to a beautiful pink is a mindboggling odyssey, utterly correlated with the type of their habitat and diet.

The barely noticeable color difference between a baby flamingo, turning pink because of beta-carotenoids, and a mature one, up to several years, is just another prime example of the effect of diet on the process of becoming pink in flamingos.

It is a rare natural phenomenon that beautifully depicts a fine example of the inherent bond between and the nature. Going deeper into details, here we are going to talk about the reasons behind flamingo’s pinkness as well as the factors that mold their coloration and in the process, just how long the seemingly unusual birds need to turn into their signature pink.

Learn about Flamingos’ Pink Color and Facts at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo:

  • Flamingos turn pink from their diet, specifically from the carotenoid pigments in the algae they consume.
  • The process takes around 2-3 years.
  • Lack of carotenoids affects their color, leading some flamingos, including lesser flamingos, to lose their pink hue if their diet is not rich in substances like brine shrimp and algae loaded with beta carotene.

Why Are Flamingos Pink?

A group of flamingos showcasing various shades of pink

The source of the flamingo family’s typically pink coloring, including that of the lesser flamingo, is a food source which includes carotenoids, organic pigments that are abundant in certain types of algae and crustaceans (e.g. brine shrimp) which are replete with beta carotene.

Flamingos including the lesser flamingo are filter feeders and they quickly pass the beta carotene, which is essential for pink flamingos to baby flamingo, being now pink. These carotenoids are then digested and naturally occur and pass into the bloodstream, over time, accumulating in the skin and feathers thus staining the baby flamingos pink color. An enzymatic reaction is the process behind the bloody color.

For example, the red color of the flamingo is caused by astaxanthin, which is a carotenoid found in species like the lesser and Andean flamingos. It is really a striking example of linking diet straightly with appearance of an animal .

What Do Flamingos Eat?

Being as marvelous as the color of flamingo, the diet of this bird is also very unique. Mostly, the flamingo birds, which comprises just the lesser ones survive on the brine shrimp and the blue algae including the ones with high carotenoids content, especially containing the bacteria loaded with carotene, which makes flamingos to be pink in color.

This diet is not an ordinary one because flamingos are specialized feeders that are largely dependent on algae as their main diet that is rich in carotenoids which are the reason of their red color. Flamingoes are filter feeders, they were designed with beaks which separate mud and silt from the food they prefer to consume, allowing them many algae and crustaceans which are contain pigments that contribute to the colorful quality of flamingoes.

How Do Flamingos Get Their Pink Color?

Flamingo’s turning into pink is a natural result of their ingurgitation of carotene-rich foods. The carotenoids are first metabolized and then accumulated into the feathers, skin, and bill of the flamingo, producing the effect of color transition.

This metamorphosis is not instantaneous, but over time as the flamingo grows up and continues to have the carotenoid-high herbivorous diet. It is a great case of how the food of animals has a very profound way of changing their physical body, clearly exemplified by how baby flamingos become pink from a diet rich in carotenoids.

How Long Does It Take for a Flamingo to Turn Pink?

This is when the trip of a flamingo that was born with pure black colorful feathers becomes interesting as the chicks change into darker grey and then get their black color.

The legendary pink color of flamingos is the result of the pigments they consume in their natural habitat, and the feathers gradually change their color after hatching.

Usually it requires age between 3–5 years for flamingo to present its full blackish brown feathers. The sequence period is always different as it relies typically on the flamingo species and the availability of food containing some carotenoid in their habitat.

To illustrate, an American flamingo will be seen with the proper pink coloring before another species counterpart like the lesser flamingo will start developing their pink due to the variations in diet and environment, which in turn make baby flamingos develop later than others.

What Happens If a Flamingo Doesn’t Get Enough Carotenoids?

The result of the dietary imbalance of carotenoids could be from pink pink feathers to the white of mutation. This is one of the common occurrences in the flamingos in the places like: zoos, parks and captivity where they may not be able to get the original kind of diet and end up with grey feathers instead of the typical pink ones.

While many zoos go further by enriching the diet of flamingos with carotenoid supplements to retain their pink hue, the vibrancy of color may still not be the same as that of flamingos in the wild where they have access to natural sources for supplementing with carotenoids.

Do All Flamingos Look the Same?

On contrary, flamingos can be significantly different in color from being pale pink to a brilliant almost red shade which is pigmented by the organic compounds it consumes, including algae, plants, and brine shrimp. Such diversity is obviously intertwined with the flamingo’s diet and the amount of carotenoid pigments it ingests into its system, leading to the phenomenon where baby flamingos gradually turn pink. The family Parr theca is a highly diverse group.

It consists, among others, of six flamingo species. Each species, including the lesser flamingo, has slightly dissimilar coloration, if it lives in a distinct habitat and takes part in a certain diet, especially a diet loaded with substances rich in beta carotene. In addition, the greater flamingos are usually paler than the Caribbean flamingos and can sometimes go with the bolder pink color due to distinct diet variations.

What Other Animals Get Their Color From Carotenoids?

Reds of flamingos are not only birds, but they are among the most impressive examples of animals in whose appearance diet plays the role, as in this flamingo facts was disclosed, so it is not just colors. The main pink color of the flamingos is all about their small blue-green crustaceans and algae diet which they consume regularly.

A lot of birds, fish, letters include gorgeous color of carotenoids in their food, like crustaceans as well as some mammals that show up colors in their body.; for instance, flamingos that got their pink color are result of carotenoid.

One fish populace, salmon, actually owes its pink flesh to krill and other nourishing crustaceans that feed on astaxanthin, a type of carotenoid. Another comparison is the bright feathers of many birds, like parrots, canaries, and flamingos, that also result from carotenoid pigments present in their diet which consequently make flamingo’s feathers pink.

Can Humans Get Pink Skin From Eating Carotenoids?

To be honest, humans don’t appear in pink like flamingos, whose diet rich in carotenoids and sources like brine shrimp and blue-green algae is crucial for their color. However, an acute intake of carotenoids, especially beta-carotene found in carrots and sweet potatoes, may lead to a condition called carotenemia.

Not only the skin tones are affected but the condition can make it look yellowish or orange and specially on the palms, soles and face, distinctly different from the pink coloration observed in flamingos due to their unique diet. It is not dangerous and the condition resolves itself when people pay attention of limiting their consumption carotenoid-rich foods, and consequently, producing beta carotenes. This affects the growth process of and the color change in flamingos, making it evident why flamingos are pink.


In the end, the story of the flamingo chick becoming fully pink is an impressive natural phenomenon and stands as a proof of how notable the role of diet can be in appearance. From their highly modified eating methods to the gradual process of carotenoid deposits, flamingos are the personification of nature’s nuances.

The phoenixes make use of several years in order to turn into those instantly recognizable birds. As their beautiful plumage is revealed as slowly as it is dramatically, it is worth seeing how flamingos turn pink within the first couple of years of their life.

The growth and development of a flamingo takes place between three to five years of age; it is only at this time that they acquire their vibrant hue. Sometimes seen in the wild and others encountered in captivity, the flamingo is one of the most interesting subjects for avian research, an amazing creature that is the result of the triple frame of biology, ecology and the tinge of whimsy.

I am a passionate bird watcher and ornithologist who wants to share knowledge about birds. I spend a lot of my free time watching birds in their natural environment, identifying different bird species, and taking pictures of them. I want to encourage others to have a better understanding of birds and how important they are to the ecosystem. My goal is to open a bird sanctuary one day where injured and orphan birds can be saved and cared for.

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