Why We Love Pink Flamingos

Why We Love Pink Flamingos

Let's admit it, flamingos are a beautiful and strange bird.  We are captivated by their beauty and intrigued by their strange traits and behaviors.  How did the Pink Flamingo become such a popular iconic symbol of pop culture?  How did they end up immortalized in plastic on our front lawns?

Some Fun Flamingo Facts

There are 6 species of flamingos that reside in different parts of the worlds. 

  1. The Greater Flamingo located in Africa, South Europe, and South and Southwest Asia
  2. The Lesser Flamingo located in Africa, and Northwest India
  3. The Chilean Flamingo located in South America
  4. Jame's Flamingo located in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
  5. Andean Flamingo located in Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
  6. American Flamingo located in Mexico, Belize, Venezuela and Galapagos Islands

Flamingos usually stand on one leg while the other is tucked beneath their body.  The reason for this behavior is not fully understood.  One theory is that standing on one leg allows the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water.  However, the behavior also takes place in warm water and is also observed in birds that do not typically stand in water.  An alternative theory is that standing on one leg reduces the energy expenditure for producing muscular effort to stand and balance on one leg.

I'm Putting My Foot Down Pink Flamingo Tshirt

Many people are not aware that flamingos are capable flyers because those that we see in captivity have their wings clipped to prevent escape.

When flamingos hatch, they are a grayish reddish color.As flamingos reach adulthood, they range in color from light pink to bright red.  Their color is determined by their diet of an aqueous bacteria and beta-Carotene. 

 The more vibrant colored flamingos are well-fed and healthy.  Whereas, a white or pale flamingo is usually unhealthy or malnourished.   

Flamingos are very social birds that live in colonies with populations sometimes in the thousands. 

Before breeding, flamingo colonies split into breeding groups of about 15 to 50 birds.  Both males and females in these groups perform synchronized ritual displays.  The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, then uttering calls while head-flagging, and then flapping their wings.   The displays do not seem to be directed towards an individual but instead occur randomly.  These displays stimulate "synchronous nesting") and help pair up those birds who do not already have mates.

Flamingos have some traits that are similar to human behavior.

Although they form strong pair bonds, they may change mates  presumably because there are more mates to choose from.  

They locate a suitable spot on the mudflat to build a nest which is usually chosen by the female.

It is during nest building that copulation usually occurs.

Flamingos aggressively defend their nesting sites.

Both the male and the female contribute to building the nest, and to defending the nest and egg.

Occasional same-sex pairs have been reported.

The Plastic Flamingo

The plastic pink flamingo was designed in 1957 by Don Featherstone while working for Union Products, and has become an icon of pop culture, that won him the Ig Nobel Prize for Art in 1996.  

The plastic flamingos reputation for being known as kitschy, and being associated with trailer parks began in 1972 after the release of the John Waters film, Pink Flamingos.

Many imitation products have found their way onto front lawns and store shelves since then; those "official" pink flamingos made by Union Products from 1987 (the 30th anniversary of the plastic flamingo) until 2001 can be identified by the signature of Don Featherstone located on the rear underside.

These official flamingos were sold in pairs, with one standing upright and the other with its head low to the ground, "feeding".

Union Products Original Featherstone Flamingos

Sometime after Featherstone's retirement in 2000, Union Products began producing birds without the signature. In December 2001, the Annals of Improbable Research (bestowers of the Ig Nobel prize) teamed up with the Museum of Bad Art to protest this omission in the form of a boycott.  Union Products, of Leominster, Massachusetts, stopped production of pink flamingos on November 1, 2006.

Since then, the copyrights and mold to the Featherstone's design have been purchased by Cado Manufacturing who report that the plastic birds production and popularity are continually growing.

In 2009, the city of Madison, Wisconsin Common Council designated the plastic flamingo as the city's official bird.

Some homeowners associations forbid the installation of plastic flamingos and similar lawn ornaments, and will fine offending owners, based on the theory that such decorations lower the neighborhood's real estate value.

After the popularity of the plastic pink flamingo rose, the pink bird started showing up as a popular design theme for thousands of products. 

And like the pink plastic lawn  icon, many of them are kitschy and are considered novelty or humor products.



There are also some cute and fun pink flamingo print fashion products that have become popular with people of all ages.  You can see flamingos printed on everything from shoes to pajamas.  And of course it is a popular print for everyday wear.  There are so many cute and even pretty clothes that have some kind of flamingo print or design.





Flamingo theme home decor is also very popular and is used in every room of the home.  You can find flamingo statues and figurines in entryways, flamingos in the bathroom on towels and shower curtains, flamingos on accent pillows in the living room, and on blankets in the bedroom.  The possibilities of flamingo theme home decor items is endless.  There are also many varieties of flamingo print patterns and motifs available as well.  

Women's accessory designers have really taken the pink flamingo theme and created some fun and unique products.  My favorite flamingo theme accessories are handbags and phone cases.  You can find accessories with 3D flamingo images, some have feathers, and some are just very colorful and bright.  

The popularity of Pink Flamingos is especially indisputable if you take a look at the thousands of Flamingo boards and pins that show up on Pinterest every day.  My Pink Flamingo board is one of my most popular boards.

So hopefully we can all embrace our fondness for the pink american icon.  And whether we choose to show that love by proudly displaying our plastic feathered friend on our front lawns, use it as a home decor theme,  wear clothes printed with it's image, or have it displayed on our accessories, our love for the one-legged bird will continue to grow.  

You can find more fun, cute and unique products by visiting  Pink Flamingo Fun products.