Greater Flamingo

Migratory birds are a mesmerizing and astonishing aspect of nature that never ceases to amaze us. These remarkable creatures embark on incredible odysseys, spanning thousands of miles annually, between their breeding grounds in the north and wintering grounds in the south. Their epic migrations are a testament to their remarkable adaptations and the formidable obstacles they overcome in an ever-changing world. From the tiniest songbirds to the mightiest raptors, migratory birds exhibit a vast array of shapes and sizes, and their movements are an indispensable part of numerous ecosystems worldwide.

The Greater Flamingo, a majestic and enchanting bird with its elongated legs and vibrant pink plumage, gracefully wades through the shallow waters of the wetlands, captivating the hearts of those who witness its serene beauty. As the sun rises over the tranquil habitat, the Greater Flamingo basks in the golden rays, casting a dazzling reflection upon the still waters, an ethereal sight that leaves onlookers awestruck. This avian wonder, found in many parts of the world, from Africa to Asia, from Europe to America, is not just a bird, but a symbol of grace, beauty, and resilience in the face of a changing world.

Bird CharacteristicDescription
Common NameGreater Flamingo
Scientific NamePhoenicopterus roseus
Colour(s)Pink plumage with black-tipped wings
Average Length110-150 cm
Average Height120-145 cm
Weight2-4 kg
Type of BirdWetlands
Origin Country(ies)Africa, Southern Europe, South Asia
Month it comes to IndiaNovember
Location in IndiaRann of Kutch, Gujarat
IUCN statusLeast Concern


The Greater Flamingo is a striking bird with a distinctive pink plumage, long legs, and a slender, curved neck. It stands tall at an average height of 3.9 to 4.7 feet (120 to 145 cm), making it one of the tallest bird species in the world. Its body is relatively slender, with a length of about 4.6 to 5.6 feet (140 to 170 cm) and a weight of around 4.4 to 8.8 pounds (2 to 4 kg). Its wingspan can reach up to 4.9 to 5.6 feet (150 to 170 cm), giving it an impressive presence in the sky.

One of the most distinctive features of the Greater Flamingo is its vibrant pink plumage, which is actually caused by pigments in the algae and crustaceans that make up its diet. The intensity of the pink colour can vary depending on the bird’s diet and overall health. Juvenile flamingos have a more muted colour and may appear more grayish in hue.

In addition to their beautiful plumage, Greater Flamingos have a unique feeding method, using their long, curved beaks to filter water and mud for algae, crustaceans, and small fish. They are able to stand on one leg for extended periods of time while they forage, using the other leg as a balancing aid.

Despite their ungainly appearance on land, Greater Flamingos are surprisingly fast in the air, with a top speed of around 35 mph (56 km/h). They are also strong swimmers, using their webbed feet to paddle through the water.

Habitat and Food

Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) are large wading birds that inhabit a variety of wetland habitats, including salt pans, estuaries, lagoons, and shallow coastal bays. 

Greater flamingos feed primarily on small aquatic animals such as crustaceans, mollusks, and algae. They use their beaks to filter mud and water, extracting small organisms and other food sources. Their beaks are specially adapted to filter feed, with a series of comb-like structures called lamellae that trap food particles.

In addition to these aquatic food sources, greater flamingos also feed on small insects, larvae, and other invertebrates found in the mud and shallow waters of their wetland habitats.


Greater flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus) are migratory birds that are known to visit India during the winter months. These birds originate from parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East and undertake long-distance flights to reach their wintering grounds in India.

Greater flamingoes usually arrive in India during the months of November to March, with peak migration occurring in December and January. They are typically found in large flocks in wetland habitats such as salt pans, lagoons, and estuaries, which provide an abundance of food resources such as brine shrimp and other small aquatic organisms.

In India, greater flamingoes are known to visit a number of states including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. They are especially abundant in the Rann of Kutch region in Gujarat, where they form large flocks that can number in the tens of thousands.

The primary purpose of greater flamingoes coming to India is for wintering and feeding. The wetland habitats in India provide a suitable environment for these birds to rest, feed, and conserve their energy during the winter months. However, some flamingoes may also breed in India, although this is less common.

Greater flamingoes usually leave India in March and April, as the weather begins to warm up in their breeding grounds in other parts of the world. They undertake a long journey back to their breeding grounds, which may take several weeks or even months to complete. The migration of these birds is an important natural phenomenon and is closely linked to the health and sustainability of wetland ecosystems in India and other parts of the world.

IUCN Status

The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is listed as a species of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. This is because the species has a very large global population and its numbers are believed to be stable or increasing. However, local populations of greater flamingos may be threatened by habitat loss, pollution, and hunting in some parts of their range.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect greater flamingos and their wetland habitats, including the creation of protected areas and conservation programs focused on wetland management and restoration. Public education and awareness campaigns are also important in promoting the conservation of these birds and their habitats. Overall, the conservation of greater flamingos and other wetland-dependent species is crucial for maintaining the biodiversity and ecological health of these important habitats.

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