Flamingo Poop: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know

Flamingo close-up
© Mrinal Pal/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Published: August 23, 2022

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When you think about a flamingo, you automatically imagine a pink bird standing on one of its legs, right?! But how much do we really know about a flamingo’s life? Why do flamingos on one leg? Why are they pink? And, more importantly, if they are pink, is their poop pink, too?

This article will tell you everything there is to know about flamingo poop! But first, let us tell you what a flamingo is, what it eats, and how its digestive system works. This is crucial in understanding how flamingos poop and whether their waste is pink!

What are flamingos?

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Flamingos are social animals that usually live in large colonies.


Flamingos are members of the Phoenicopteridae family. Their name comes from the Latin word flamengo, which means “flame-colored.” 

These beautiful animals are born with gray or white plumage. Two or three years later, their color changes and can be anything from light pink to bright red. This color is determined by the beta-carotene and the aqueous bacteria they get from their food, primarily from algae. If a flamingo has a pale shade, it means it might be sick or malnourished. There are six flamingo species spread worldwide:

  1. Phoenicopterus roseus – Greater flamingo, which lives in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
  2. Phoeniconaias minor – Lesser flamingo, which lives in Africa and India.
  3. Phoenicoparrus jamesi – James’s flamingo, which lives in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia.
  4. Phoenicopterus chilensis – Chilean flamingo, which lives in South America.
  5. Phoenicoparrus andinus – Andean flamingo, which lives in Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia.
  6. Phoenicopterus ruber – American flamingo, which lives in the Caribbean islands, Florida, Belize, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Galapagos Islands.

Many flamingo species are now extinct. These include Phoeniconaias siamensis, Phoenicopterus stocki, Phoenicopterus copei, and Phoenicopterus minutus.

There’s a global network of specialists that have dedicated their work to the conservation of the six extant flamingo species. This network is called the Flamingo Specialist Group (FSG). They continuously conduct flamingo research and cooperate with other organizations for information exchange. 

The greater flamingo is the largest species. It can reach 4.7 feet tall and weigh up to 7.7 pounds. The lesser flamingo is the shortest, measuring 2.6 feet tall and weighing 5.5 pounds.

Flamingos are social animals. They usually live in large colonies. These pink beauties are excellent flyers, too! Their wingspan is 37-59 inches.

Why do flamingos stand on one foot?

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Scientists believe that flamingos stand on one leg because this method conserves body heat.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

Scientists are still trying to find an accurate answer to this question. They believe that flamingos stand on one leg because this method conserves body heat, which is essential because they spend much time in cold water. Another reason may be that this method reduces muscle activity. Research on cadavers showed that standing on one leg implies no muscular activity. 

How and what does the flamingo eat?

Group birds of pink African Flamingos walking around the blue lagoon on a sunny day, Namibia

Flamingos are filter feeders; they eat brine-shrimp, blue-green algae, mollusks, crustaceans, plankton, and small



©Yulia Lakeienko/Shutterstock.com

Flamingos are omnivores; they eat brine-shrimp, blue-green algae, mollusks, crustaceans, plankton, and small insects. Some flamingos feed only on blue-green algae and are usually of darker shades. Flamingos are filter feeders.

Filter feeders are animals that filter food particles from water. Their beaks are adapted to separate the mud from their food. The flamingo’s lamellae – hairy, plate-like structures that line the mandibles and the tongue – help filter the food. But there’s more to it! Flamingos have 19 neck bones, so they are incredibly flexible! That’s why they eat with their heads upside down! 

Research showed that, while filtering the food, lesser flamingos use their bills to pump water 20 times per second. On the other hand, Caribbean flamingos are slower and pump water only 4-5 times per second. 

Do flamingos poop?

Yes, like any other bird species, flamingos poop. Their poop comes out of the so-called “cloaca.” Even more, their digestive system is somewhat similar to a human’s digestive system.

How do flamingos digest?

A flamingo’s digestive system includes:

  • Esophagus, which connects the mouth to the stomach;
  • Crop, where the food is stored before going into the proventriculus and the gizzard. 
  • Liver, which filters the blood that passes through the digestive system;
  • Proventriculus, which is a part of the stomach where digestion takes place;
  • Gizzard, the second part of the stomach where food is ground;
  • Pancreas, which helps digest the food and produces endocrine cells;
  • Intestine, which helps absorb the nutrients;
  • Cloaca, which is where excrements come out from.

The flamingo gets its food from the water. It reaches the crop through the esophagus. Then, the food goes into the proventriculus, where it’s being digested. The gizzard is next in line, where the food is ground. After this, it reaches the intestine. The excrement is eliminated through the cloaca. The liver, the pancreas, and the intestine have a crucial role in absorbing nutrients and maintaining the proper function of the digestive system. 

What does the flamingo poop look like?


Flamingo excrement is either white, gray, or brown.

©Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB/Shutterstock.com

If a flamingo is pink because of what it eats, then its poop must be the same color, right?! Well, contrary to what people think, flamingo poop is not pink. It is either white, gray, or brown. Yes, it’s just like any other bird’s poop

However, there’s a small exception to this. When flamingos are young and still processing the yolk they fed on while in the eggs, their poop may be orange-ish. But once that yolk gets out of their system, their poop will have the usual bird waste color.

Incredible flamingo facts

  1. Flamingos can handle water as hot as 150°F and as cold as -22°F. 
  2. Flamingos have a gland that can filter the salt out of the water. That’s why they can easily live in saltwater and highly alkaline lakes. Other animals will burn from the chemicals found in alkaline waters, but flamingos can resist them!
  3. When a flamingo bends its leg, it doesn’t actually bend it at the knee but at the ankle! 
  4. Flamingos are never fully asleep! When they rest, they use only half of their brains, while the other half is always awake and alert. When they feel safe, they sleep standing up. But if there aren’t any flamingos nearby and they feel threatened, they lie down in the water to rest. 

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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