On this page you’ll find greater flamingo facts, pictures and information. Be sure to watch the video of the flamingo’s crazy courtship dance!
Greater Flamingo Facts at a Glance
- Other names: pink flamingo, rosy flamingo
- Scientific name: Phoenicopterus roseus
- Type of Animal: Bird (member of the Aves class)
- Animal Family: Phoenicopteridae
- Where Found: The Middle East, Africa, Southern Europe
- Wingspan: 140 - 170 cm (55 to 67 in.)
- Height: 110 - 150 cm (43 – 59 in.)
- Weight: 2 - 4.1 kg (4.5 – 9 lb.)
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Other interesting Greater Flamingo facts: The greater flamingo is the largest and most widespread of the 6 species of flamingo.
- The word ‘flamingo’ comes from the Spanish for ‘flame colored’.
Greater Flamingo Video
Watch the video below to see Greater Flamingos in the wild. Notice how the younger birds in the flock are still to attain their pink color. (The pink comes from natural chemicals in their food.)
Meet the Greater Flamingo: Introduction
Flamingos are among the world’s most recognizable birds. All six species of flamingo have the familiar pink plumage, and large, crooked bills.
Flamingos are filter feeders. They separate food from the water using their specially adapted bills, which are held upside down in the water while the bird is feeding. We’ll find out more about this further down the page.
The greater flamingo is the largest flamingo species. It is also the most widespread, being found in parts of Africa, Asia and Europe.
The greater and lesser flamingos are the only flamingos found outside of the Americas (the continents of North and South America combined).
How to Recognize a Greater Flamingo
The greater flamingo is a tall wading bird. It has long, thin legs and webbed feet. Scales on the legs and feet protect the bird from the potentially harmful salt water in which it spends much of its time.
Adult greater flamingos are pale pink, with patches of darker red on their sites. Their wing tips are black.
The flamingo’s pink coloring comes from red-colored pigments called carotenoids that are present in the flamingo’s food. Younger birds are a pale grey-brown color, with only a touch of pink. As they grow, they gradually turn pink.
You might get told to eat up your greens. A juvenile flamingo is told to eat up its pinks!
The greater flamingo’s large, downwards curving beak is pink with a black tip. It’s long legs are reddish-pink.
Greater Flamingo vs Lesser Flamingo
Greater flamingos share much of their habitat with lesser flamingos. You can tell a greater flamingo from a lesser flamingo by its larger size and paler plumage. The greater flamingo also has a lighter-colored bill, which usually has less black than that of a lesser flamingo.
Greater Flamingo Facts: Size
The greater flamingo is the largest of the 6 species of flamingo. Its average height is around 110 to 150 cm (43 – 59 in). It weighs between 2 and 4.1 kg (4.5 and 9 lb.). Males are larger than females.
The biggest males can approach 190 cm (75 in) in height – that’s taller than most people!
The wingspan of the greater flamingo is 140 - 170 cm (55 - 67 in.)
Greater Flamingo Family
The greater flamingo is in the family Phoenicopteridae together with the five other flamingo species and their extinct relatives. Recent studies have shown that the flamingos’ closest relatives are the grebes, small to medium-sized freshwater diving birds.
Where Does the Greater Flamingo Live?
The greater flamingo’s large range includes parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.
Some of the many countries in which it is found include: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Gibraltar, Greece, Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Greater Flamingo Habitat
The greater flamingo inhabits areas of shallow salty water, including lakes, lagoons, estuaries and beaches. It also regularly visits freshwater areas in order to bathe and drink, but rarely inhabits these area for long periods of time.
Greater Flamingo Behavior
Greater flamingos are social animals and usually live in flocks. Smaller flocks can combine during the breeding season to form large flocks containing hundreds of thousands of birds.
Flamingos communicate with loud goose-like honks and cackles.
The greater flamingo lives a nomadic lifestyle. It constantly travels from place to place as changes in the water level cause its wetland habitats to dry out or to reappear, or as new food sources are located.
Some populations migrate between coastal feeding grounds and inland breeding grounds, where they congregate in large numbers to breed.
Greater Flamingo Diet & Feeding Adaptations
The greater flamingo’s diet consists of brine shrimp (tiny aquatic crustaceans) and blue-green algae (microscopic plant-like organisms that float near the surface of the water). It also eats mollusks, worms, insects and small fish.
The flamingo is a filter-feeder. Its separates food from the salty water using its specially-adapted bill.
In order to eat, the flamingo lowers its head and dips its bill upside down into the water. It fills its bill with water and mud, using its tongue as a pump. The bill’s crooked shape means that the gap between the top and bottom jaws stays roughly the same along the bill’s length. This prevents large objects from entering the mouth.
The flamingo then pumps the contents of its mouth back out through special hairy plates in the bill. These filter food from the water and mud. The food is then directed to the bird’s throat by backwards facing spines in the mouth and on the tongue.
Greater Flamingo Family Life
Groups of male greater flamingos perform a special courtship dance to attract females. This involves synchronized walking and simultaneous head movements. To our eyes it looks rather comical, but we’re sure that for a female flamingo it’s very impressive!
You can see Andean flamingos exhibiting similar behavior in the video below:
Both the male and female flamingo take part in nest building and egg incubation. The pair will aggressively defend the nest from other flamingos. The nest consists of a mound made of dried mud and other materials. There is a rounded hole at the top in which the single egg is laid.
After around one month, the egg hatches. The chick is fed with a milky substance regurgitated from the bird’s crop. This contains fat and proteins.
After around a week, the chick begins to venture away from the nest. Soon after this it will join a crèche with other chicks. Smaller crèches combine to form large crèches containing thousands of chicks.
After 2 to 3 months, the flamingo’s crooked bill has formed and it can then feed itself.
Is The Greater Flamingo Endangered?
The greater flamingo has the IUCN rating ‘Least Concern’. It has a relatively large global population of between 550,000 and 680,000 individuals. In some areas the population is stable, and in other it appears to be growing.
Greater Flamingo Facts For Kids: Conclusion
We hope that you have enjoyed finding out about these amazing birds. The huge flocks of greater and lesser flamingos that congregate over Africa’s shallow salt lakes are one of nature’s most amazing spectacles. Perhaps one day you'll see them for yourself!
... And with the bird’s ‘Least Concern’ conservation rating, it's likely that the flocks will still be there for future generations of wildlife lovers to enjoy!