Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus Scientific name definitions

Alfredo Salvador, Miguel Á. Rendón, Juan A. Amat, and Manuel Rendón-Martos
Version: 2.0 — Published August 12, 2022



The Greater Flamingo's range spans Africa, western Asia, and southern Europe.

Breeding Range

Breeding sites may vary from year to year depending on environmental conditions. The sites where breeding has been documented are listed below.

On the African continent, in southern Africa, it breeds at St. Lucia Lake and De Hoop Vlei (South Africa), Etosha Pan (Namibia), and Makgadikgadi and Sua pans (Botswana) (65, 66, 10). In eastern Africa, it nests in Lake Natron (Tanzania), Lake Magadi and Lake Elmenteita (Kenya), and Shalla Lake (Ethiopia) (67, 10). In western Africa, it breeds in the Kaolack saltworks (Senegal) (10), as well as Banc d’Arguin, Aftout es Saheli, and Chott Boul (Mauritania) (68, 69, 70). In Western Sahara, Greater Flamingo was a rare breeder, and it was only recorded before 1955 in Saguia el-Hamra and at Dawra (71). In northern Africa, breeding has been recorded in Tunisia in Sebkhet de Sidi El Hani, Sebkhet Sidi Mansour, Chott el Djerid, Chott el Fejej, Chott el Guettar, Garaet Zougrata, Sebkhet el Jem, Lake of Tunis, Korba Lagoon, Sebkhet Halk el Menzel, Sahiline saltworks/Monastir, and Thyna saltworks/Sfax (72, 73, 74). In Algeria, breeding has been recorded at Ezzemoul, Bazer Sakra, El Menia, Chott el Hodna, and Safioune (75, 76, 77, 78). In Egypt, breeding has been recorded at El Malaha, Zaranik, and Bir al-Abd (79).

In Asia, Greater Flamingo bred in Lake Urmia (Iran) (30), Al-Faw (Iraq) (80), Sabkhat al-Jabbul (Syria) (81), Al Wathba, Shahama, and Bul Syayeef (United Arab Emirates) (82), Dasht-e-Nwar and Ab-e-Istada (Afghanistan) (80), Chelkar-Tengiz Lake (Kazakhstan), Sambhar Lake, and Great and Little Rann of Kutch (India) (10). Breeding was recorded in Pacham Island (India) in 1943 (83). In Türkiye, breeding has been recorded at the Çamaltı Tuzlası saltworks, Acıgöl, Tuz Gölü, Seyfe Gölü, Sultansazligi, and Eregli marshes (80, 84).

In Europe it nests in several places across the Mediterranean region. In Spain, it has been recorded breeding in Fuente de Piedra Lake (Málaga), the Guadalquivir marshes (Huelva-Sevilla), the Odiel marshes (Huelva), the Trinidad saltworks in the Ebro River delta (Tarragona), the El Hondo reservoir (Alicante), the Santa Pola saltworks (Alicante), the Torrevieja saltworks (Alicante), and Pétrola Lake (Albacete). Failed breeding attempts have also been recorded in Spain in Manjavacas Lake (Cuenca), Larga de Villacañas Lake (Toledo), and Alcázar de San Juan Lake (Ciudad Real) (85). Other European nesting sites include the Camargue (France) (86), the Molentargius and Macchiareddu saltworks/Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy), Margherita di Savoia (Italy), Orbetello (Italy), Comacchio (Italy), Venice Lagoon (Italy), Diaccia Botrona (Italy) (87, 10, 88, 46), Cyprus (89), and Aliki Kitros (Greece) (87). In 2017 it bred in Syvash Lake, Crimea, Ukraine (90).

Nonbreeding Range

Between breeding events, flamingos can be present in any place where the species occurs away from specific breeding sites, which can include non-breeding individuals during the breeding season. In Africa, where they are considered resident, this can occur at any time of the year, as it could include birds that have not started breeding yet.

In East Africa, Greater Flamingo is present from the coast of the Red Sea to eastern Africa in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and Tanzania, including Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands (10). In southern Africa, it is present in Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Angola, and Namibia (10). In western Africa, it is observed along the Atlantic coast from Mauritania to Guinea-Bissau, including the Bijagos Islands, Senegal, Gambia, the Canary Islands, and the Cape Verde Islands (10, 91). It has also been observed in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Niger, Cameroon, Gabon, and Congo (92). In North Africa, it is found all year round in Algeria (93), Tunisia (72), and Libya (94). In Western Sahara, wintering birds are observed in the Laâyoune marshes, Khenifiss Lagoon, Dakhla bay, and in the mouths of oued Ouaar, oued Chebeika, oued Ouma Fatma, and Draa (71).

In Asia, it is present in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (10). Greater Flamingo has also been recorded wintering in Bul Syayeef Marine Protected Area, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Shahama Wetland, Al Aryam Mudflats, and other lagoons (United Arab Emirates) (82). In Türkiye, it was observed wintering in the Aegean, Mediterranean, and eastern Anatolia areas (84). In Israel, it is a passage migrant, winter visitor, and summer visitor (95). In Armenia, it is a rare fall visitor (96).

In Europe, Greater Flamingo occurs in southern countries. In Portugal, it is found in the Sado and Tagus estuaries (97). In Spain, it is found (in winter especially) in the Guadalquivir marshes, the Odiel marshes, Cádiz bay, some sites on the Mediterranean coast, and inland lakes of the Andalusia and Castilla La Mancha regions (98). In France, it is present in wetlands along the Mediterranean coast and in Corsica. In Italy, it is observed in Sardinia (99), Sicily, Tuscany, Apulia, and Ravenna. In the Balkans, it occurs in coastal wetlands from Croatia to Greece, on the Aegean islands of Kos, Samos, Lesvos, Limnos and Naxos, and Cyprus. It also occurs in Ukraine (10).

Introduced Range

There is a breeding site in Zwillbrocker Venn (Germany) of birds of an unknown origin, presumably escaped from captivity (100). In central Europe, Greater Flamingo winters in the joint delta of the rivers Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt in the Netherlands; these are birds that likely escaped from captivity (100).

Extralimital records

Greater Flamingo has been recorded in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Hebrides Islands, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Saint Petersburg (Russia), and at several sites in Siberia: Tomsk, Atschinsk, Kusnetzk, Barnaul, Minussink, and Baikal Lake (32, 4, 101). There is a non-dated record at Haa Alifu Atoll in the Maldive Islands (102).

In China, in 1997 a Greater Flamingo was captured at Erbao, and another near Urumqi (103). In Mongolia, there is a record in Khar-Us Lake (Khovd Province) in 1947, and another in the Shiskhid River (Hövsgöl Province) in 1996 (104).

There is a record at Lagoa de Araruama, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, on 28 November 2021 (105).

Historical Changes to the Distribution

In Morocco, Greater Flamingo bred at Iriki in the middle Draa valley in 1958, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, but it did not breed there again after the Draa River was dammed in the 1970s (106). In the Cape Verde Islands (Africa), eggs were observed and chicks were caught in the mid-1800s on the island of Boavista, but it has not bred there again (107). Also in the Cape Verde Islands, reproduction was recorded on the island of Sal in the 19th century (108).

North and east of the Caspian Sea, Greater Flamingo nested during the 1800s in the lower reaches of the river Emba (Kazakhstan), in Krasnovodsky Bay (Turkmenistan), in the Kamyshin region, in Lake Inderskoe (Astrakhan, Russia), and in the lower reaches of the Ural river (Russia). All these breeding colonies disappeared in the early 1900s (109).

In Europe, the breeding range was restricted to the western Mediterranean until the 1990s (110). During the intervening years between the first European ornithological atlas (110) and the second European ornithological atlas (111), the species has spread eastwards and breeds more often in Italy and Türkiye (111).

Distribution of the Greater Flamingo - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Greater Flamingo

Recommended Citation

Salvador, A., M. Á. Rendón, J. A. Amat, and M. Rendón-Martos (2022). Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.grefla3.02