Date: June 7, 2020
Source: University of Exeter
Bright pink flamingos are more aggressive than paler rivals when fighting over food, new research shows.
Pink plumage is a sign of good health in lesser flamingos, and a flush of colour often means they are ready to breed.
So when the birds squabble over food, the pinkest flamingos -- both male and female -- tend to push the others around.
The study, by the University of Exeter and WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, also found the birds fight more when food is available in a small area such as a bowl -- so the findings suggest captive birds should be fed over a wide space where possible.
"Flamingos live in large groups with complex social structures," said Dr Paul Rose, of the University of Exeter.
"Colour plays an important role in this. The colour comes from carotenoids in their food, which for lesser flamingos is mostly algae that they filter from the water.
"A healthy flamingo that is an efficient feeder -- demonstrated by its colourful feathers -- will have more time and energy to be aggressive and dominant when feeding."
Dr Rose studied the behaviour of Slimbridge's lesser flamingos in different feeding situations: at an indoor feeding bowl, a larger indoor feeding pool, and outdoors with food available in a large pool.