Flamenco común (Phoenicpopterus roseus)

The Flamingo, a symbolic species of the Regional Park

There is no doubt that the common flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the symbolic species of the municipality of San Pedro del Pinatar. Its pink colour, associated with the crystallizing ponds of the salt flats, is perhaps the most striking feature of this majestic bird. But few know the reason for its colouring …

The flamingo feeds mainly on insect larvae, mollusks and small crustaceans, of which it can eat up to half a kilogram a day. Among the most abundant crustaceans in their diet we have the Artemia salina, which is pink in colour and can measure up to a maximum of half a centimetre. This crustacean, in turn, feeds on a type of plant plankton, cyanobacteria, which causes the pink colour of the crystallizing ponds. We also know what causes the pink colour of cyanobacteria, and it is that they produce a pink pigment (phycoerythrin) that absorbs sunlight which they use to carry out photosynthesis. This pigment is responsible for the colour of the flamingo.

But why do we also see gray flamingos? They are the young, still developing, but have not acquired the pink colour of adults in their feathers which will require an average of 2 to 3 years.

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