Phoenicopterus roseus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopteridae

Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus roseus Pallas, 1811
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Greater Flamingo
Taxonomic Source(s): Knox, A.G., Collinson, M., Helbig, A.J., Parkin, D.T. and Sangster,G. 2002. Taxonomic recommendations for British birds. Ibis 144: 707-710.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Childress, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Ekstrom, J. & Ashpole, J
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is regularly seen from West Africa eastward throughout the Mediterranean to South West and South Asia, and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The Palearctic population (including West Africa, Iran and Kazakhstan) is estimated to number between 205,000 and 320,000, the South West and South Asian populations combined at 240,000, and the sub-Saharan African populations between 100,000 and 120,000 (Delany and Scott 2006). The Palearctic population appears to be increasing, while the Asian and sub-Saharan African populations appear to be stable (Delany and Scott 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Botswana; Burundi; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Comoros; Cyprus; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; France; Gambia; Gibraltar; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kuwait; Lebanon; Libya; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Madagascar; Malawi; Maldives; Mauritania; Mayotte; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Nepal; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Portugal; Qatar; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia - Vagrant, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Sao Tomé and Principe; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Slovenia; Somalia; South Africa; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant); Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic; Tanzania, United Republic of; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Western Sahara; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bulgaria; Cameroon; China; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Equatorial Guinea; Finland; Germany; Hungary; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lesotho; Malta; Mauritius; Mongolia; Montenegro; Niger; Norway; Poland; Réunion; Romania; Serbia; Slovakia; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Tajikistan
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:58100000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The overall population is estimated at 550,000-680,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 45,000-62,400 pairs, which equates to 89,900-125,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Behaviour Juveniles, and to a lesser extent adults (Mateo et al. 1998), are prone to irregular nomadic or partially migratory movements throughout the species's range in response to water-level changes (Snow and Perrins 1998, Hockey et al. 2005) or food availability (Brown et al. 1982). Members of the Palearctic population are partially migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) and regularly travel to warmer regions in the winter via favoured stop-over sites (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (non-breeders may be present all year round in the wintering areas) (Snow and Perrins 1998, Amat et al. 2005). In the Mediterranean and West Africa, breeding colonies appear to be linked by a significant frequency of juvenile and adult dispersal and are thus considered to belong to a single metapopulation (Balkiz 2006). Members of the Asian populations move from their breeding sites at inland lakes to coastal wetlands during non-breeding periods (Balachandran 2007), and when not breeding the sub-Saharan African population tends to disperse among the alkaline-saline lakes and wetlands of eastern and southern Africa (McCulloch et al. 2003, Baker et al. 2006). The Palearctic population breeds regularly from March to June in large dense single-species colonies of up to 20,000 pairs (occasionally up to 200,000 pairs) (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and in some regions may undergo a post-breeding flightless moult period where adults gather in flocks on inaccessible waters (Flint et al. 1984). The Asian and sub-Saharan populations breed irregularly following the rains, often in large mixed colonies with Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor (Brown and Root 1971, McCulloch and Irvine 2004, Balachandran 2007). The species is gregarious and commonly occurs in flocks of 100 or more outside of the breeding season (Brown et al. 1982), with thousands often flocking together (Brown et al. 1982) in areas rich in food or at freshwater inlets of saline or alkaline lakes to drink and bathe (Snow and Perrins 1998). In sub-Saharan Africa, the species may also join large flocks of non-breeding Lesser Flamingo. The species is a bottom feeder (Snow and Perrins 1998) and forages both by day and night (Brown et al. 1982), feeding by filtering particles through tiny platelets in the bill (Snow and Perrins 1998). It also often roosts at night in large flocks (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat The species inhabits shallow (c.1 m deep over a large area) (Snow and Perrins 1998) eutrophic waterbodies (Hockey et al. 2005) such as saline lagoons, saltpans and large saline or alkaline lakes (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992) up to pH 11 (Snow and Perrins 1998). It will also frequent sewage treatment pans, inland dams (Hockey et al. 2005), estuaries (Brown et al. 1982) and coastal waters (Diawara et al. 2007), seldom alighting on freshwater but commonly bathing and drinking from freshwater inlets entering alkaline or saline lakes (Brown et al. 1982). It nests and roosts on sandbanks (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), mudflats (del Hoyo et al. 1992), islands (Brown et al. 1982) or boggy, open shores (Flint et al. 1984). Diet Its diet consists of crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (especially brine shrimp Artemia salina) (Brown et al. 1982), molluscs, annelid worms, larval aquatic insects, small fish, adult terrestrial insects (e.g. water beetles, ants), the seeds or stolons of marsh grasses, algae, diatoms and decaying leaves (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It may also ingest mud in order to extract organic matter (e.g. bacteria) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The species nests in large dense colonies on mudflats or islands of large waterbodies, occasionally also on bare rocky islands (del Hoyo et al. 1992), with a distance between neighbouring nests of between 20 and 50 cm (Snow and Perrins 1998). The nest is usually an inverted cone of hardened mud (Flint et al. 1984) with a shallow depression on the top (alternatively it may be a small pile of stones and debris when mud is not available) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Management information The removal of sand polluted with lead shot from a salt-lake in Cyprus was successful in significantly reducing the numbers of deaths due to lead poisoning (Miltiadou 2005). At two colonies (one in France and one in Spain) management techniques to counteract erosion and the lack of suitable nesting islands were successfully applied in order to encourage breeding by the species (Martos and Johnson 1996).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):16.3
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species suffers from low reproductive success if exposed to disturbance at breeding colonies (Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986, Yosef 2000) (e.g. from tourists, low-flying aircraft [Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986] and especially all-terrain vehicles [Yosef 2000]), or if water-levels surrounding nest-sites lower (resulting in increased access to and therefore predation from ground predators such as foxes and feral dogs) (Miltiadou 2005). The lowering of water levels in lakes can also lead to hyper-salinity which may affect food resources (Nasirwa 2000). Other threats to the species's habitat include effluents from soda-ash mining (Nasirwa 2000, Hockey et al. 2005), pollution from sewage and heavy metal effluents from industries (Nasirwa 2000). The species also suffers mortality from lead poisoning (lead shot ingestion) (Mateo et al. 1998, Miltiadou 2005), collisions with fences and powerlines (Hockey et al. 2005), and from diseases such as tuberculosis, septicemia (Nasirwa 2000) and avian botulism (van Heerden 1974). Utilisation In Egypt large numbers of adults are shot or captured to be sold in markets (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and egg collecting from colonies occurs in some areas (this may become a threat) (Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. CITES Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. The following information refers to the species's European range only: The removal of sand polluted with lead shot from a salt-lake in Cyprus was successful in significantly reducing the numbers of deaths due to lead poisoning (Miltiadou 2005). At two colonies (one in France and one in Spain) management techniques to counteract erosion and the lack of suitable nesting islands were successfully applied in order to encourage breeding by the species (Martos and Johnson 1996). The species is also kept and does well in captivity (del Hoyo et al. 2014). The Flamingo Specialist Group was established in 1978 to actively promote flamingo research, conservation and education worldwide.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: The conservation of all wetlands used by this species for feeding and breeding is important and breeding sites should be monitored to ensure the continuation of appropriate habitat management techniques (Tucker and Heath 1994). Measures suggested and implemented at the Ebre Delta in Spain include regular surveys and monitoring, raising public awareness, mitigation of damage to rice fields, control of salt pan levels and wardening against disturbance (Curcó et al. 2009).

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Altered seasonality of occurrence for a country.

Classifications [top]

5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.14. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.14. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:breeding major importance:Yes
9. Marine Neritic -> 9.10. Marine Neritic - Estuaries
suitability:Suitable season:non-breeding major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes

Bibliography [top]

Amat, J. A.; Rendón, M. A.; Rendón-Martos, M.; Garrido, A.; Ramírez, J. M. 2005. Ranging behaviour of greater flamingos during the breeding and post-breeding periods: linking connectivity to biological processes. Biological Conservation 125: 183-192.

Baker, N. E.; Baker, E. M.; Van den Bossche, W.; Biebach, H. 2006. Movements of three Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber roseus fitted with satellite transmitters in Tanzania. Waterbirds around the world. In: Boere, G. C.; Galbraith, C. A.; Stroud, D. A. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 239-244. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Balachandran, S. 2007. Current status of Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus at major coastal wetlands along the east coast of India with special emphasis on population decline. Flamingo.

Balkiz, Ö. 2006. Dynamique de la metapopulation de flamants roses en Méditerranée: implications pour la conservation. Sciences et techniques du Languedoc, Université Montpellier II.

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Brown, L. H.; Root, A. 1971. The breeding behaviour of the Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor. Ibis 113: 147-172.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

Curcó, A., Vidal, F. and Piccardo, J. 2009. Conservation and management of the Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus at the Ebre delta. Flamingo, Special Publ 1: 37-43.

Delany, S. and Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. and Garcia, E.F.J. 2014. Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive., Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Diawara, Y.; Arnaud, A.; Araujo, A.; Béchet, A. 2007. Nouvelles données sur la reproduction et l’hivernage des flamants roses Phoenicopterus roseus en Mauritanie et confirmation d’échanges avec les populations méditerranéennes. Ostrich 78: 469-474.

Flint, V.E.; Boehme, R.L.; Kostin, Y.V.; Kuznetsov, A.A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Hockey, P.A.R., Dean, W.R.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: (Accessed: 5 December 2017).

Martos, M. R.; Johnson, A. R. 1996. Management of Nesting Sites for Greater Flamingos. Colonial Waterbirds 19: 167-183.

Mateo, R., Belliure, J., Dolz, J.C., Aguilar-Serrano, J.M. and Guitart, R. 1998. High prevalences of lead poisoning in wintering waterfowl in Spain. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35: 342-347.

McCulloch, G.; Aebischer, A.; Irvine, K. 2003. Satellite tracking of flamingos in southern Africa: the importance of small wetlands for management and conservation. Oryx 37: 480-483.

McCulloch, G.; Irvine, K. 2004. Breeding of Greater and Lesser Flamingos at Sua Pan, Botswana, 1998-2001. Ostrich 75: 236-242.

Miltiadou, M. 2005. Wintering populations, breeding attempts and lead poisoning of the Great Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus on the salt lakes of Cyprus. Flamingo 13: 31-35.

Nasirwa, O. 2000. Conservation status of flamingos in Kenya. Waterbirds 23: 47-51.

Ogilvie, M.; Ogilvie, C. 1986. Flamingos. Alan Sutton, Gloucester.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Tucker, G.M. and Heath, M.F. 1994. Birds in Europe: their conservation status. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

van Heerden, J. 1974. Botulism in the Orange Free State goldfields. Ostrich 45(3): 182-184.

Wetlands International. 2015. Waterbird Population Estimates. Available at: (Accessed: 17/09/2015).

Yosef, R. 2000. Individual distances among Greater Flamingos as indicators of tourism pressure. Waterbirds 23: 26-31.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Phoenicopterus roseus (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22697360A119273745. . Downloaded on 22 September 2018.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided