A Black Flamingo? Latest Miami Cocktail or Hoax?

BlackFlamingosCyprusAnother strange creature emerges into the internet consciousness, this time looking like a black flamingo! Cryptozoology lovers may wonder if this is a hoax or the latest cocktail craze from Miami. Could there be any truth to this latest monster?

This latest cryptid creature actually doesn’t come from Miami, or even the USA. It hails from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and it was spotted recently by visitors and staff at the Akrotiri Environmental Center on Cyprus.

There amongst the carpet of pink bodied flamingos was a lone black one. How did it get that way? By having a genetic condition called melanism. This condition turns the pigment of birds’ feathers black.

BlackFlamingosFlyingFlamingos aren’t the only ones who can suffer this fate. Science tells us that it can occur in hawks and ducks as well. But while it can help the animal evade predators by allowing them to disappear into most landscapes, it can put a damper on the bird’s love life.

Flamingo females are programmed to look for the rosiest pink male as the perfect choice for a mate. The black flamingo won’t attract any interest amongst his flock, unfortunately for him.

Another down side, the melanistic condition makes their feathers brittle resulting in more breakage than normal. Not good if you need to fly.

Still, this particular bird seems to be surviving just fine. A conservationist with the Flamingo Specialists Group reported seeing this same bird in 2013 in Israel. The conservationist, Michaeline Moloney, said these birds can be told apart by their appearance as well as their behavior with the rest of the flock.

It seems that this year, the melanistic bird has made its way to Cyprus. Check out the recent video from Cyprus:


 

Flamingo Make-Up

You know how we often say how surprised we are by various finds in Mother Nature? You won’t believe this next one!

In the course of researching this article on melanism, I found another that described how flamingos use make-up to make themselves even rosier in preparation for mating season.

BlackFlamingos02According to ornithologist Juan Amat of the Donana Biological Research Station these birds go through a yearly “color cycle.” As soon as the chicks are born, they all fade and become pale. That goes on from May through September. In October they start getting rosy pink again.

Scientists know that flamingos get their color from the carotenoids in the food they eat, such as algae and small crustaceans. Then why do they fade during the summer months?

Scientists also know that these birds smear their own natural oil onto their feathers because the oil keeps the feathers flexible and waterproof.  Could it have something to do with their coloration?

Amat had a suspicion that the color was being applied to their feathers and the most likely culprit was the oil the birds got from a gland near their tails.  The scientists tested the oil and sure enough, it was loaded with carotenoid compounds.

Amat reported that male and female flamingos apply this “make-up” especially as mating season approaches. Both sexes are programmed to favor highly pink and rosy mates.

He said, “We were so excited to discover this. Other birds like the bearded vulture, are known to take mud baths that leave their feathers tinged with color. We now need to go and look at these species to see if they are applying cosmetics just like the flamingos do.”

Mary Kay, move over! 😀

MaryKayLipstick

References

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/news/en_US/2015/04/150417-black-flamingo-cyprus-birds-genetics-animals-science.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/11/101110-flamingos-makeup-mating-science-animals/#

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