Most of us have probably seen flamingos at some point in our lives, but very few have watched them feed. Thanks to an underwater camera at the San Diego Zoo, we get to see just that. Put simply, these animals feed by sucking in water and mud at the front of their bills before pumping it out at the sides. Briny plates., called lamellae, then act like tiny filters, trapping shrimp as well as other small water creatures for the flamingos to eat. Read more for the video and additional information.
The pink or reddish color of these animals come from carotenoids in their diet of animal / plant plankton. Flamingos in America are a brighter red color because of the beta carotene availability in their food while the lesser flamingos are a paler pink due to ingesting a smaller amount of this pigment. The liver enzymes break down the carotenoids into pigments and the source of this varies by species, affecting the color saturation. Flamingos who only eat blue-green algae are darker than those that get it second-hand by eating animals that have digested blue-green algae.
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