Is there any relationship of the colour of the Flamingos on the Galapagos Islands and the foods that they eat?

Does what the Flamingos eat affect the colour of their bodies? Does the food on the Galapagos Islands have any affect on the birds?

Expert Answers

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The American Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber, is one of several species of flamingo, and is the species that occurs in the Galapagos islands. Flamingos are well adapted for a life in shallow bays, where they wade in the water and use their large bills to filter the water and bottom much for small crustaceans such as shrimp and krill, which make up the bulk of their diet. These small creatures tend to be rich in carotenoids, nutrients which are red and orange pigments. Because the birds eat such a large amount of carotenoids, their feathers take on the color of their food.

According to the Honolulu zoo, flamingos living in zoos are usually fed a diet that is especially enriched with carotenoids so that zoo visitors see them in their highly pigmented glory. Without supplementation, the feathers are very pale or even white.

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