Flamingo Migration

1. Flamingos are generally non-migratory birds. However, due to changes in the climate and water levels in their breeding areas, flamingo colonies are not always permanent.

  •  Populations that breed in high-altitude lakes, which may freeze over in the winter, move to warmer areas.
  •  When water levels rise, birds may search for more favorable sites.
  • Drought conditions may force some flamingo populations to relocate.
  • Most flamingos that migrate will return to their native colony to breed. However, some may join a neighboring colony.
  • When flamingos migrate, they do so mainly at night. They prefer to fly with a cloudless sky and favorable tailwinds. They can travel approximately 600 km (373 miles) in one night at about 50 to 60 kph (31-37 mph). When traveling during the day, the flamingos fly at high altitudes, possibly to avoid predation by eagles.

2. The movements of the greater flamingo population living in Carmarque in southern France have been closely monitored since 1977.

  •  Most flamingos that leave the colony go either southwest to winter in Spain, or southeast to winter in Tunisia and Turkey.
  • The percentage of birds that travel east or west seems to depend on the direction of the prevailing winds in the birds’ first autumn.