Flamingo adaptions allow for survival skills

Seventy-five percent of lesser flamingos breed in the severe conditions of Lake Natron in Tanzania.
© Cristoph Strässler

Flamingos stand out in many ways, with their pink color and skinny legs. But many people don’t realize how the species has adapted to survive brutal conditions that other wildlife wouldn’t tolerate. Flamingos can deal with some of the harshest environments on earth, reaping the benefits of fewer predators. Lesser flamingos (Phoeniconaias minor) can be found on the soda lakes in Africa, where the pH of the water makes it impossible for most other species to inhabit. Lake Natron in Tanzania is salty and caustic, yet 75 percent of lesser flamingos breed there. The birds have thickened skin and scaly legs that help them avoid burns from the chemicals in the water. Their pink feathers are a testament to their survival skills, coming from the consumption of cyanobacteria. Pigments are processed through their liver and out through their feathers.

Check out this American Chemical Society video to learn more about flamingo survival skills.