Flamingo in dis­guise?

go! - - Upfront Letters -

QDIRK BEZUIDENHOUT from Pre­to­ria writes: I pho­tographed these yel­low-billed storks next to the Chobe River in Botswana. Ac­cord­ing to our guide, the storks get these pink feath­ers dur­ing breed­ing sea­son. Is this true?

ABird ex­pert PETER RYAN says: Yes. These yel­low-billed storks are in their breed­ing plumage. Their red fa­cial skin also be­comes brighter, which they can ac­cen­tu­ate by pulling back their scalp. The back feath­ers of both sexes ex­hibit this pink “wash” – a carotenoid-based pig­ment de­rived from their diet. Pink plumage in­di­cates good health in both sexes.

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