Do Flamingos Migrate? ( Facts About Their Migration And Habitat )

Flamingos are easily recognizable birds due to their vibrant hues. 

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

They are mostly found to be walking with their long feet and elongated necks. They fly like other birds but they aren’t often seen flying which is why some people are skeptical about the fact whether flamingos migrate or not.

A few months back, I visited a zoo where I saw these beautiful wading birds from up close. The birds instantly made me fall in love with them.

After coming back home, I started reading about the birds to know more about them and compiled the information to help you know about the flamingos’ migration and habitat. 

Do flamingos migrate?

Flamingos generally stay in the same locale and hence, are non-migratory birds. But, their movement may occur when there are changes in the ecosystem of their habitats. According to their needs and favourability, the birds may relocate themselves.

The situations that may cause migration in flamingos are:

  • Flamingos’ colonies that breed near high-altitude basins may move to warmer regions in winter because the lakes and reservoirs may freeze over during this time. 
  • Flamingos are dependent on aquatic regions. If drought occurs in their breeding areas, they may relocate.
  • Flamingos are adapted to low water levels and thus, when there is a rise in water levels, they may search for more appropriate areas.
  • Food shortage or difficult living conditions in their living areas may insinuate migration.
  • Any threat to their lives in their habitats may force the birds to migrate to safe and secure areas.

Flamingos fall into the category of birds that are at ease in darkness and so, perform various tasks at night including migration. 

They give preference to the cloudless sky and look for favorable winds blowing in their direction of travel for flying. 

If the birds migrate during the daytime, they fly at greater heights. This is because flying higher helps flamingos to save energy while covering long distances. The other reason can be that the birds fly high to avoid predation, especially by eagles. 

The birds that migrate find a favorable place to enjoy their life temporarily, but they tend to return to their original habitat or the neighboring one for breeding. 

In which season do flamingos migrate?

Flamingos generally migrate in the winter season between October and March. The migration usually occurs during the non-breeding season. 

How long do flamingos travel for migration?

Flamingos can travel to the distance of 600 kilometers in one night for migration with the speed of 50 to 60 kilometers per hour. However, the distance and the speed of the flock while migrating varies depending on the wind conditions. 

Where do flamingos migrate?

Flamingos migrate to ecosystems that have favorable conditions according to their necessities. Their migration is widely dispersed and generally nomadic among several wetlands that are around the subcontinent they are living in. 

Different breeds or colonies of the same breed may migrate to different places. They mostly have different migrating patterns. Some flamingos may migrate whereas some may peacefully stay in their habitats.

The Various breeds of flamingos and their migrating pattern are:

Greater Flamingos

The greater flamingos have the most diverse migration patterns. The birds that are inhabited in northern regions migrate to warm areas during winters. Those residing in northern Asia or the Middle East and regions of Africa, generally migrate to India or Iran. 

They migrate to the estuarine and freshwater habitats. Those residing in the parts of Northern Europe migrate either to the southwest or southeast regions of the continent in winters. It has been found that their migration patterns are getting shorter due to ecological imbalance.

Caribbean Flamingos

The breed generally migrates short distances like other species. Those residing in the Caribbean region are often found to migrate to Cuba during seasonal migration. Whereas, during the non-breeding season, Hispaniola receives migrant Caribbean flamingos. 

Caribbean flamingos living in South America migrate to nearby areas, especially Bonaire.

Andean Flamingos

This breed of flamingos is migratory and can fly 700 miles a day. In winters, they migrate to the regions of lower wetlands, generally due to aridity in their habitats.  

The wetlands of western and central Argentina and southern Peru receive Andean flamingos as migrants during the non-breeding season.

James’ Flamingos

Their migration pattern is not so clear, but some birds of this breed may relocate from higher to lower altitudes within Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, and Chile during winters. However, some stay at the site due to the prevention of basins from freezing by hot springs.

Lesser Flamingos

This species of the flamingo is nomadic and inhabits areas that have seasonal fluctuation in resources and conditions. They do not migrate generally but some may migrate from East to southern Africa, between Soda lakes and Makgadikgadi and Etosha Pans. 

Chilean Flamingos

They are migratory birds that migrate seasonally to enjoy seasonal temperature differences. They migrate to regions that have milder Atlantic climates. 

Where do flamingos live?

Flamingos live in large saline or alkaline lakes or wetlands that generally lack vegetation. The habitats that are used by these birds are tidal flats, sandy islands, and mangrove swamps. All the species of flamingos are found in the subtropical and tropical areas.

The distribution of the flamingos is quite varied. Different species of flamingos have inhabited different parts of the world. This is because of the characteristic differences between them. 

The regions where different species of flamingos live are:

  • The greater flamingo is found mainly in northwest India, the western Mediterranean, the Middle East, northern Europe, and Africa. 
  • The Caribbean flamingo inhabits almost all parts of the Caribbean, coastal South America, and the Galapagos Islands. 
  • The Andean Flamingo is found in the areas of north-central Chile, northwestern Argentina, southern Peru, and western Bolivia.
  • The James flamingo has mostly the same locality as Andean flamingos. The only different region that they occupy is northeastern Chile.
  • The lesser flamingo is mainly found throughout Africa. However, some populations reside in India. Some may even be located in the far northern areas of southern Spain. 
  • The Chilean flamingo is found majorly on the southern coasts of South America, Argentina, central Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and southern Brazil.

Do flamingos migrate in flocks?

Flamingos migrate in flocks because of their adaptation to living in groups. There are several dozens of flamingos or even more in a flock that migrates together to the same region. 

When the flock migrates and covers long distances, the birds organize themselves in different shaped formations and fly close to each other. Flying in groups close to each other helps the birds to force through air resistance.  

It is because of the flapping of wings of the flock that occurs together during flying. Flamingos change their formations while flying to use different wind patterns for their benefit. 

Related Read: Do Flamingos Attack or Kill Humans? | Flamingos Behavior | Are They Dangerous?

Conclusion

Flamingos are birds with varied behavior and characteristics. One such fact about them is that they are non-migratory and generally, do not change their habitat easily until something serious troubles them up. The birds are widely distributed and thus, show diverse migratory patterns.