Tropical flamingo birds were spotted in Wisconsin: this is the first time in the history of the state - ForumDaily
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Tropical flamingo birds spotted in Wisconsin: this is the first time in state history

Five flamingos have appeared in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan. They attracted a large crowd of spectators who wanted to see unusual visitors from tropical places, reports NBC.

Photo: IStock

The American flamingos, spotted Sept. 22 in Port Washington, about 40 miles north of Milwaukee, were the first ever to appear in Wisconsin, said Mark Corducchi, a member of the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology.

The birds stood calmly 7,6 meters off the western shoreline of Lake Michigan as waves splashed against their spindly legs. Three of them were adults, identifiable by their pink plumage, and two were juveniles with gray feathers.

Jim Edelhuber of Waukesha was among about 75 bird lovers who flocked to South Beach after reports of flamingos there spread on social media.

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“It’s incredible,” said Edelhuber, an avid bird watcher and photographer.

"This was unexpected but not a complete shock due to recent reports of flamingos in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania," said Ryan Brady, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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Wildlife biologists hypothesized that the flamingos were pushed north in late August by Hurricane Idalia's strong winds.
The typical range of the American flamingo is Florida and other Gulf Coast states, as well as the Caribbean and northern South America.

Debbie Gasper of Port Washington made the short trip to the lakeshore with her husband, Mark. She said that before Sept. 22, the only flamingos she had seen were during the couple's trips to Aruba.

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Gasper said she plans to send photos of the birds to relatives in Georgia, who "won't believe it."

Why are flamingos pink?

Flamingos are not born with pink feathers.

Flamingos are actually born with gray-white feathers, reports Ferra. They turn pink when they start eating certain foods. Among them are brine shrimp and blue-green algae. Interestingly, such creatures are considered dangerous to other animals because they contain special substances - carotenoids, according to Dr. Paul Rose, a zoologist from the University of Exeter (UK).

However, why are these animals safe for flamingos? According to a specialist from the University of Exeter, it's all about the metabolic characteristics of birds. In the flamingo's body, harmful chemicals are simply processed. In particular, this happens in the liver. As a result, functional components and pigments are obtained from carotenoids. And it is thanks to these pigments that birds' feathers turn pink.

In addition, due to these pigments, their skin, mucous membranes and even fat acquire a pink color. Interestingly, this only works with pink. That is, if a bird eats purple food coloring, it will not turn purple.

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