You’ve probably heard that flamingos are birds, but you might be surprised to learn they actually belong in the same taxonomic order as other birds—the Order Columbiformes. But not all sources agree on this point. Check out these conflicting answers and see if you can figure out which one is right: Is a flamingo a mammal or a bird? If you look up “flamingo” in an encyclopedia, it will probably say something like “a species of water bird known for its gaudy pink plumage.” The fact that it’s usually found in or near water isn’t mentioned. That means we can eliminate the first answer, which is that a flamingo is a type of water mammal called an amphibian (which also means it’s not a bird).
Is A Flamingo a Mammal?
No, a flamingo is not a mammal. Flamingos are wading birds in the family Phoenicopteridae. They occur in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres and are usually found near water. Flamingos get their name from their characteristic pinkish-red color, which comes from carotenoid pigments in their diet of animal and plant food.
Why Are Flamingos Pink?
1. As your author mentioned earlier, flamingos are not birds. They are members of the Order Columbiformes, which is an order of flightless birds (so you can see why it might be difficult to determine their taxonomy). The scientific name for flamingo is Phoenicopterus—it comes from Greek and means “red wing”—and most sources define them as a type of bird called a wading bird, which means they spend a lot of time in the water.
2. Pink flamingos live in hot climates, so they need to protect themselves from the heat. Their pink color works to reflect heat back into their body and keep them cool. Some people have argued that these birds might have adapted this coloration specifically in response to climate change because they may be forced to naturalize more frequently moving northward as the temperature rises; however, more recent research suggests that the coloration is genetic and has not changed with climate change.
3. If you look at a live flamingo up close (or even at one on YouTube), you’ll notice that it doesn’t actually have any pink feathers on its body; instead, its feathers are much lighter than it appears in pictures or videos. This is because when they first hatch they don’t have any pink coloring on them at all; instead, the coloring develops after about three months of growth or sometimes later if the bird has access to food sources containing carotenoids (yellow chick is white with a brownish/greenish tint.
How Are Flamingos Called This Color?
- The flamingo got its pink coloring from the food it eats, specifically shrimp and small crustaceans. As it eats the crustaceans, the shrimp turns pink in order for the flamingo to attract them (not that you need to be repelled by pink shrimp). This can even be seen in the vivid coloring of red chicken blood when you cook them!
- There are several possible explanations for why flamingos are colored pink: Some believe that as new hatchlings, they have no markings at all at first; early on, the striped color is more of a yellowish-orange. They only have pink feathers when they’re fully grown. The color change only occurs during the incubation period, which lasts about six weeks!
How Do Flamingos Stand On One Leg For So Long?
1. The Flamingo Is A Bird
You probably know that flamingos are birds. They’re the only birds that stand on their legs all the time, like frogs. The reason they do this is that they need to keep their head and neck above water while they eat and drink.
2. The Flamingo Is A Mammal
The other answer is that flamingos are mammals, which means they have hair and warm blood like we do. But there’s no mention of this in any encyclopedia, so it can be eliminated as being incorrect. If you look up “flamingo” in an encyclopedia, it will probably say something like “a species of water bird known for its gaudy pink plumage.” The fact that it’s usually found in or near water isn’t mentioned. That means we can eliminate the first answer, which is that a flamingo is a type of water mammal called an amphibian (which also means it’s not a bird).
3. The Flamingo Is Both A Bird And A Mammal
The third answer is that flamingos are both birds and mammals. This one has the most support in an encyclopedia, but it’s still not 100 percent correct because it doesn’t mention the fact that flamingos live near water. We can eliminate this answer, too, which means that the flamingo is neither a bird nor a mammal. That leaves us with the correct answer: A flamingo is neither a bird nor a mammal, but it’s definitely not an amphibian.
How Do Flamingos Produce Milk?
- The flamingo’s breast, which is made primarily of keratin and features the same proteins that make up hair and feathers, secretes a substance called milk. Flamingos have to use their tongues to lap it up from their throats, which takes time. According to a BBC article, “Chemicals in the flamingo’s saliva block the flow of blood, causing it to turn pink while it coats the tongue.” Other reports explain that milk is made by what we commonly call a “milk gland.”
- Gularmilk contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are similar to those in the teeth of all birds and mammals; this crystal-rich secretion keeps flamingos’ teeth strong. The substance also stimulates digestion in their stomachs because they are unable to digest cellulose or triacylglycerols (sugars and fats).
- The milk has a surprisingly high-fat content: 10%. So when flamingoes do ingest it–such as during feeding time–they double their weight for about four days! According to the Physorg website: “Their digestive system is more than twice as efficient at processing fat than that of other birds.”
- The milk from flamingos has a distinctive taste. One website reports: “It has a richer taste than any other bird or mammal, but still light and sweet.”
- Flamingos are born with a full set of teeth and digestive (and maybe pancreatic) organs, but they are not able to digest food until they’re about two years old. They reach sexual maturity at about three years of age, which means that in their first few years of life, nothing (including their mother’s breastmilk) is being digested for them as well as being ingested by them!
In conclusion, flamingos are not amphibians, nor are they mammals. They belong to the same order as other birds, the Columbiformes. They are known for their bright pink feathers, which are caused by pigments in the birds’ skin called carotenoids. Flamingos are also known for their one-legged standing habits and their ability to reabsorb nutrients from their own eggs.