Greater flamingo

The iconic and elegant bird with a curved pink bill is known for turning heads

YULIIA LAKEIENKO

The most widespread and largest species of the flamingo family. Found in parts of Africa, southern Asia (including India), the Middle East, and southern Europe, this species is noted for its striking pink plumage, long, lean, curved neck, and similarly lengthy and slender legs.

During the breeding season, the plumage of Greater Flamingos becomes more vibrant. The intensity of their pink coloration is diet-dependent, with pigments known as carotenoids (found in their natural food sources like shrimp, plankton, and algae) playing a crucial role. Additionally, these flamingos engage in a unique behavior known as “make-up” where they use their uropygial glands to spread pigmented oil over their feathers, enhancing their coloration. This cosmetic application not only intensifies their hue but may also be a factor in mate selection.

Greater Flamingos are gregarious birds that find strength in numbers. They form large colonies that can number in the thousands, which offers individual birds protection against predators. Within these colonies, birds often form smaller groups that engage in synchronous nesting and cooperative vigilance, ensuring the safety and survival of their offspring.

The young flamingos hatch with gray feathers and do not acquire the characteristic pink plumage until they are about two years old. The coloration process is gradual and correlates with their maturing diet, which begins to include more carotenoid-rich foods.

Human activity poses significant threats to the Greater Flamingo. Disturbance from development and tourism can lead to the abandonment of breeding sites, resulting in reproductive failure. Additionally, these birds require specific environmental conditions for feeding, including shallow water where they can filter-feed on small organisms. Changes in water levels due to irrigation, droughts, or other human-induced water management can force flamingos to migrate in search of suitable foraging grounds.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2018
Breeding
Algeria
2018
Breeding
Angola
2018
Armenia
2018
Austria
2018
Vagrant
Azerbaijan
2018
Bahrain
2018
Non-Breeding
Bangladesh
2018
Belarus
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Belgium
2018
Vagrant
Botswana
2018
Breeding
Bulgaria
2018
Non-Breeding
Burundi
2018
Cambodia
2018
Cameroon
2018
Vagrant
Cape Verde
2018
China
2018
Vagrant
Cocos Is. (Keeling)
2018
Vagrant
Comoros
2018
Congo-Brazzaville
2018
Vagrant
Croatia
2018
Vagrant
Cyprus
2018
Czechia
2018
Vagrant
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2018
Vagrant
Denmark
2018
Vagrant
Djibouti
2018
Egypt
2018
Breeding
Equatorial Guinea
2018
Vagrant
Eritrea
2018
Eswatini
2018
Vagrant
Ethiopia
2018
Finland
2018
Vagrant
France
2018
Gambia
2018
Germany
2018
Vagrant
Gibraltar
2018
Greece
2018
Guinea-Bissau
2018
Guinea
2018
Hungary
2018
Vagrant
India
2018
Iran
2018
Iraq
2018
Non-Breeding
Islands
2018
Vagrant
Israel
2018
Italy
2018
Jordan
2018
Non-Breeding
Kazakhstan
2018
Breeding
Kenya
2018
Kuwait
2018
Kyrgyzstan
2018
Vagrant
Latvia
2018
Vagrant
Lebanon
2018
Passage
Lesotho
2018
Vagrant
Libya
2018
Madagascar
2018
Malawi
2018
Maldives
2018
Malta
2018
Vagrant
Mauritania
2018
Breeding
Mauritius
2018
Vagrant
Mayotte
2018
Mongolia
2018
Vagrant
Montenegro
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Morocco
2018
Mozambique
2018
Namibia
2018
Breeding
Nepal
2018
Niger
2018
Vagrant
North Macedonia
2018
Non-Breeding
Norway
2018
Vagrant
Oman
2018
Pakistan
2018
Poland
2018
Vagrant
Portugal
2018
Non-Breeding
Qatar
2018
Romania
2018
Vagrant
Russia
2018
Non-Breeding: Eastern Asian Russia
Russia
2018
Vagrant: Central Asian Russia
Réunion
2018
Vagrant
Saudi Arabia
2018
Senegal
2018
Breeding
Serbia
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Seychelles
2018
Sierra Leone
2018
Slovakia
2018
Vagrant
Slovenia
2018
Non-Breeding
Somalia
2018
South Africa
2018
Breeding
Spain
2018
Vagrant: Canary Is.
Sri Lanka
2018
Sudan
2018
Passage
Sweden
2018
Vagrant
Switzerland
2018
Vagrant
Syria
2018
São Tomé & Príncipe
2018
Tajikistan
2018
Vagrant
Tanzania
2018
Tunisia
2018
Turkey
2018
Turkmenistan
2018
UAE
2018
Uganda
2018
Uzbekistan
2018
Yemen
2018
Zambia
2018
Zimbabwe
2018

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No