Welcome to our page that introduces key information on the six flamingo species.
Flamingos are found on every continent of the world except for Australia and Antarctica. They are famous for their bright pink colours and habits of standing on one leg. But there’s more to the flamingo than pink feathers and good balance. Flamingos are extremophiles, species that exist in challenging environments where other species would struggle to survive.
Who are the different flamingos?
The six extant species of flamingo are:
- The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
- The Caribbean (or American) flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber)
- The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)
- The Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus)
- The puna (or James’s) flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)
- The lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)
Greater and lesser flamingos are found in the Old World (across Europe, Africa and into some parts of Asia).
The Caribbean, Chilean, Andean and puna flamingos are found in the New World (from the United States of America, across central America and the Caribbean, to the Galapagos Islands and into South America).
These six species are divided into two categories based on their feeding strategy and bill structure. These two categories are shallow-keeled flamingos and deep-keeled flamingos.
The shallow-keeled flamingos are the greater flamingo, Caribbean flamingo and the Chilean flamingo.
The deep-keeled flamingos are the Andean flamingo, the puna flamingo and the lesser flamingo.
What’s the difference between shallow- and deep-keeled flamingos?
- Shallow-keeled flamingos have course filtering bristles inside their bill and a reduced surface area for the bristles to attach to.
- Deep-keeled flamingos have denser filtering bristles inside their bill and an increased surface area (a deeper inside ridge, or keel, to the inner surface of their upper mandible).
- Shallow-keeled flamingos are less specialised feeders. They consume macroscopic animal and plant material.
- Deep-keeled flamingos are very specialised feeders. They consume microscopic plant (e.g. blue-green algae and diatoms) and animal (e.g. zooplankton) material.
Four of the six species of flamingo are of conservation need.
The Andean flamingo is the rarest and most threatened species of flamingo. It is listed as Vulnerable (A2acd+4acd) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Three species of flamingo are listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, meaning they are in danger of further damaging population declines in the future.
These are the lesser flamingo, the puna flamingo and the Chilean flamingo.
Want a handy guide to spotting each of the flamingo species?
Especially for International Flamingo Day, here’s out handy flamingo flowchart to find out exactly what pink bird you might be watching!
Our flamingo flowchart is also available in Spanish!