Why so pink, barred owl?

In these photos, you will see the outstretched wing of a barred owl patient, and below that wing, the preserved wing of a barred owl who had died (wing kept for educational purposes).

Photos by Lauren DiBiccari.

Do you notice something about the wing of the live barred owl? It’s pink! 

No, this is not a new subspecies of barred owl. Rather, this owl is sporting pink feathers due to his particular diet. What might one eat to make oneself pink? Around here, it’s crayfish. Just like pink flamingos — whose feathers are pink due to the high amount of shrimp in their diet — other birds’ feather color can be altered based on their diet as well.


  1. Anonymous on November 6, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    How interesting. I have been a birder for many years and didn't know that. Thanks for sharing this information. I always enjoy seeing all of the birds, walking the trails, and the knowledgeable staff when I visit VINS.


  2. Unknown on December 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Very interesting picture, I had no idea that food would effect the colors of a birds wings. I live in Toronto, Canada, and this past weekend, my wife, Jean, and I came upon a Barred Owl in the forest. What a beautiful bird. If your interested our pictures and video are at: http://frametoframe.ca/photo-essay-barred-owl-sighting-markham-ontario/

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