What Do Flamingos Eat

The flamingo is a type of bird that you might never see face to face, but you’ll find it easy to recognize its pinkish color. Flamingoes prefer a variety of foods, and some of their favorites are small crustaceans, diatoms and algae. Much of the food that they eat can be found in shallow lakes and lagoons.

If you ever want to meet a flamingo in person, you’ll need to travel to the Middle East, Africa or South America. You can also find these creatures living in the Caribbean.



A typical flamingo has a pink or red color, which is caused by the carotenoid pigments that it gets from food. Caribbean flamingos are a subspecies of the greater flamingo, and they tend to have the brightest colors.

The flamingo enjoys eating red and blue-green algae, and it might also enjoy eating small types of mollusks, crustaceans and small insects. Lesser flamingos are known to eat a variety of different foods in an effort to fulfil their daily diet requirements.

Pink Flamingo

The pink flamingo eats many of the same foods that their different-colored brothers and sisters eat. When feeding, they tend to filter-feed on blue-green algae and brine shrimp. They have beaks that are specifically adapted to separate silt and mud from the food that they eat.

To filter-feed their food sources, they use their beak upside down, which is a unique arrangement. These birds have hairy structures that they use to filter their food. Most people don’t know that flamingos actually get their unique coloring from their diet, which contains large amounts of carotenoids.

What Food Makes Flamingos Pink?

From birth, the feathers of a flamingo are actually light gray. Once they’ve become adults, they begin to turn a pinkish color. Since they usually live by wetlands, swamps and lakes, they have a diet that consists almost entirely of algae.

However, they’re also known to eat small crustaceans and insect larvae. Some of their favorite foods are mollusks and shrimp. A typical flamingo consumes massive amounts of blue-green and red algae. These foods are loaded with something called beta carotene.

The carotene is an organic chemical that contains a reddish-orange pigment. Beta carotene is also present in a variety of plants, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Mollusks also contain beta carotene.

Once inside the bird’s digestive system, the pigments from the food are extracted. After the pigments are extracted, they’ve dissolved into fats, and it doesn’t take long for the fats to get deposited into the bird’s feathers.

Over time, new feathers are colored by the fats as they grow. The color of any given flamingo can range from crimson to pale pink. It really just depends on the total amount of pigment that is present in the bird’s diet.

What Foods Do Flamingos Love To Eat?

These gorgeous birds love to eat a variety of different foods. Some of their favorite food sources are brine shrimp, crustaceans and algae. Some other classics are aquatic plants, diatoms and algae. In captivity, they’re commonly served something called flamingo fare.

When living in a zoo, they’re given a special commercial diet that contains large amounts of carotenoids, which preserves the beautiful color of the bird’s feathers.

Andean Flamingos

These guys have a deep-kneeled bill, and like their brothers and sisters, they eat a diet that contains large amounts of algae. The greater American and Chilean flamingos have shallow-kneeled bills, so they like to eat small fish, invertebrates and insects.

The Andean flamingo is one of the rarest species of this animal in the entire world. It has thin twig-like legs and bright pink wings. Depending on their natural environment, these birds enjoy eating single-celled and hard-shelled plants.

Although algae are their favorite food to eat, you might also find them consuming cyanobacteria because it’s quite common in many of the natural environments that these birds tend to live in.

The James flamingos are very similar and tend to eat the same foods. African flamingos are also very similar and eat many of the same foods. Some of their favorites are brine shrimp, crustaceans, algae and aquatic plants.

If you ever see these birds in the wild, try to get a few pictures because you might never get to see them again if you’re from the United States.

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