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Greater flamingo’s have a rather varied diet which includes plant material (such as grass seeds, algae and shoots) and small animals such as worms, insects, and tiny crustaceans. Within some of the food flamingos eat there are carotenoid pigments, which gives flamingos their characteristic pink colouring.
Flamingos are filter feeders, they feed with their head upside down in the water and use their tongue like a syringe to draw water and food in to their beak, and then push the water back out again leaving their food trapped inside comb-like bristles called 'lamellae' in their beak.
Greater flamingos are found across Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East, and also into southern and south western Asia. They can be found in large numbers (as many as 10,000!), in habitats that have mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water.
These animals can breed from 3 years old. They perform elaborate group courtship displays to attract a mate including synchronised wing-raising, marching and ‘head-flagging’, which involves raising the neck and beak and turning the head from side to side. When they find their perfect mate, they will then stay with them for life (monogamous).
A female will lay a single egg (rarely 2 eggs) in a tall cone-shaped mud nest which are incubated by both the male and female. Once hatched, the chick is fed a pink fluid called ‘crop milk’ from the parents which is high in fat and protein. They are fed this for at least their first 3 to 4 weeks. After their first week they will form a crèche with other chicks, and will be fully independent at 10 weeks old.
Greater flamingos have few predators in the wild, however eggs and chicks are preyed upon by other birds such as Marabou storks.
Flamingos are rather skittish birds, and if disturbed or an alarm call is made, and they will take flight in large numbers.
Threats to the greater flamingo in the wild include hunting and egg collection (for food as well as private egg collectors), pollution, disease, and habitat loss caused by harbour and industrial development or the drainage of wetland areas for agriculture.
These animals are protected under international legislation and there are numerous conservation efforts occurring in the wild for this species, including the management of colonies to increase nest sites and satellite tracking programmes.
Status Least concern
Size 90-150cm. Wingspan: 100-180cm
Gestation 27-31 days
Young 1 chick (rarely 2)
Life span 30-35 years in the wild, 40-45 in captivity
The name given for a group of flamingos is a ’stand’ or ‘flamboyance’.
The greater flamingo is both the largest and palest of all the flamingo family.
The backward bending "knee" of a flamingo's leg is actually their ankle. The knee of the flamingo is very close to the body and is not visible through the bird's feathers.
Flamingo chicks are light grey and white, they will become pink like the adults at roughly 2 years old.
Catch the flamingos anytime, day or night on our live video webcam! Head to our 'Keep in Touch' section for more.