|In Walvis Bay, Namibia|
|In flight, showing its pink wing feathers|
The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is found in parts of Africa, southern Asia (coastal regions of Pakistan and India), and southern Europe (including Spain, Albania, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and the Camargue region of France). Some populations are short distance migrants, and sightings north of the breeding range are relatively frequent; however, given the species' popularity in captivity, whether or not these are truly wild individuals is a matter of some debate. A single bird was seen on North Keeling Island (Cocos (Keeling) Islands) in 1988.
A sub-adult feeding in Walvis Bay
This is the largest species of flamingo, averaging 110–150 cm (43–60 in) tall and weighing 2–4 kg (4.4–8.8 lbs). The largest male flamingos have been recorded at up to 187 cm (74 in) tall and 4.5 kg (10 lbs). It is closely related to the American Flamingo and Chilean Flamingo, with which it has sometimes been considered conspecific, but that treatment is now widely seen (e.g., by the American and British Ornithologists' Union) as incorrect and based on insufficient evidence.
Like all flamingos, this species lays a single chalky-white egg on a mud mound. Most of the plumage is pinkish-white, but the wing coverts are red and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink with a restricted black tip, and the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking. Sub-adult flamingos are whitish-grey and only attain the pink coloration several years into their adult life. The coloration comes from the carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.
The bird resides in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. Using its feet, the bird stirs up the mud, then sucks water through its bill and filters out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and mollusks. The Greater Flamingo feeds with its head down and its upper jaw is movable and not rigidly fixed to its skull.
The average lifespan in captivity, according to Zoo Basel, is over 60 years.
The oldest known Greater Flamingo, a resident of the Adelaide Zoo in Australia, is at least 80 years old. The bird's exact age is not known; however, he was already a mature adult when he arrived in Adelaide in 1933, and he was still there as of 2013.
Relationship with humans
Because of Zoo Basel's extraordinarily successful breeding program and a lack of room, most of the hatchlings are sent to zoos around the world. Given the history and the large number of birds hatched in Basel since 1959, it may be concluded that most of the Greater Flamingo zoo colonies around the world are related to the one at Basel.
In the Rann of Kutch salt marsh of India and Pakistan, Greater Flamingos are occasionally electrocuted when they sit on 1000 watt electric cables near their breeding areas. Recently 139 deaths were officially recorded in the region.
Roman emperors considered flamingo tongues as a delicacy.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Phoenicopterus roseus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Leguat 1891, p. 210 Vol. 2
- Rothschild 1907, p. 151 and Plate 31
- "Flamingo Feeding". Stanford University. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- "Australia youths "maul flamingo"". BBC News Online. 30 October 2008. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
- (German)"50 years of flamingo breeding". Basler Zeitung. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Phoenicopterus roseus.|
- Greater Flamingo from the IUCN/Wetlands International Flamingo Specialist Group
- Flamingo Resource Centre - a collection of resources and information related to flamingos
- Greater Flamingo videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection
- Performing Greater Flamingos in open field
- Greater Flamingo - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.