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5 fun facts about flamingos


Flamingo Day is May 29! And on that day we celebrate the famous pink bird. Forget the plastic ones you find on people’s lawns, real flamingos are one of the most interesting birds in the sky or on the ground. Check out these interesting tidbits on our feathery, pink friends.

Flamingos are pink because of their food.
Photo via Pixabay.

Flamingos love to munch on foods like shrimp, snails, and algae. All these foods have a chemical that turns a flamingo’s feathers pink. The more of this chemical they eat, the stronger the colour of their feathers. That’s why flamingos in some parts of the world are brighter than others. And if a flamingo stops eating foods with this chemical, they lose their colour and can turn white. So flamingos really are what they eat!

Flamingos sleep on one leg.
Photo by h080 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Flamingos have a famous habit of standing on one leg. Scientists aren’t certain, but they believe that flamingos can save more energy standing on one leg than on two. Their long and lanky legs have a special feature where they are able to “lock” their leg into place so it requires zero effort to stand. Flamingos can sleep in this position — even with a bit of wind, they’ll sway from side to side but stay standing in their sleep. Now that’s an awesome balancing act!

Flamingos can run on water.
Photo by chirag_jog licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Before taking off into the air, flamingos need to build up some speed. So they take a short run up, even when they’re in the water. Flamingos can run on water because they have webbing in between their three toes. This webbing is also why they balance so well on just one leg.

A flamingo’s mouth is like a strainer.
Photo via Pixabay.

Tipping your head upside-down underwater doesn’t sound super comfortable, but that’s how flamingos eat. Once they curve their long necks down, they slurp up lots of water. The water contains all that delicious algae or shrimp they like to eat. Using their tongue and rows of small combs in their beak, a flamingo can spit out the water but keep the food they’re really after. Don’t try that at dinner.

Flamingos are very social.
Photo via Pixabay.

Feel like hanging out with thousands of family and friends? Flamingos sure do! Groups of flamingos can gather into one big group called a colony, and they do everything together. They eat at the same time and sleep at the same time. They also mate around the same time. Before flamingos pick a mate, the colony even does a special dance together!