Phoenicopterus ruber - Linnaeus, 1758
American Flamingo
Other English Common Names: Greater Flamingo
Other Common Names: Flamingo-Grande
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Phoenicopterus ruber Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 174976)
French Common Names: Flamant des Caraïbes, Flamant rose
Spanish Common Names: Flamenco Americano
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.818066
Element Code: ABNHA01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Wading Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopteridae Phoenicopterus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). Banks, R.C., R.T. Chesser, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, D.F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2008. Forty-ninth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 125(3):758-768.
Concept Reference Code: A08AOU01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Phoenicopterus ruber
Taxonomic Comments: This species formerly included P. roseus Pallas, 1811 [Greater Flamingo] but is now separated on the basis of differences in color and plumage and bill, and in displays and vocalizations (Sangster 1997). This changes was adopted by AOU (2008).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04May2009
Global Status Last Changed: 04May2009
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Fairly large range in Caribbean region and northern South America; large population, apparently stable or slowly declining.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1N (11Jun2002)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (SNRN), Utah (SNA)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range includes the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Hispaniola (Wiley and Wiley 1979) and satellites, southern Bahamas, Netherlands Antilles, northeastern Colombia, and the Galapagos Islands. Apparently this species was formerly resident in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and possibly it is on the verge of recolonizing this area (Raffaele 1989). Former breeding areas also include the Florida Keys (probably), additional areas in the Bahamas, Haiti, and the north coast of South America from Colombia to the Guianas (AOU 1983). As a nonbreeder, this species ranges throughout the Caribbean region and south to South America from Colombia to northeastern Brazil. For example, Haiti is utilized by flamingos mostly for feeding and roosting during nonbreeding, winter dispersal from Great Inagua and perhaps Cuba (Ottenwalder et al. 1990).

Old World populations are now regarded as a distinct species (AOU 2008).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Four major breeding colonies: Great Inagua, Bahamas; Archipelago de Camaguey, Cuba; Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico; Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles; plus a few additional sites with smaller nesting populations (Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986).

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Global population size is uncertain but apparently exceeds 200,000.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats include subsistence hunting, habitat loss, pollution, and other forms of human disturbance (e.g., tourism is a potential threat in Yucatan, Mexico; Espino-Barros and Baldassarre 1989). See Schmitz et al. (1990) for information on die-off in Yucatan, Mexico, related to ingestion of lead shot.

Ottenwalder et al. (1990) concluded that populations in Haiti likely are declining due to increasing human disturbance, habitat degradation, and exploitation for food and trade. Wiley and Wiley (1979) reported human disturbance and harvest as threats in the Dominican Republic and eastern Haiti.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Trend is not precisley known, but populations appear to be relatively stable (Raffaele et al. 1998) or at least are not declining more than 30 percent over 10 years or three generations

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: A population on two reserves in a wetland complex in Yucatan, Mexico, increased from a low of 6,057 in 1954 to 27,000 in 1998 (Baldasarre and Arengo 2000).

Espinoza et al. (2000) determined that the total estimated population of Caribbean Flamingos along the Venezuelan coast was 37,110 (2-fold increase in numbers compared with censuses in the 1970s and 1980s) The observed increase may reflect measures taken by the Venezuelan government to protect feeding and resting habitats, but also may be due to the broadened spatial and temporal survey coverage of Venezuelan coastal wetlands.

Populations in Haiti likely were declining as of the early 1990s, and nesting is not known to have occurred since the 1920s (Ottenwalder et al. 1990).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Baldassare and Arengo (2000) concluded that in Yucatán, Mexico, a regional planning approach is needed to maintain the natural hydrology of the area, which creates the conditions that provide pulses of available feeding and nesting habitat for flamingos. Such a landscape-level planning approach is essential and well within the capabilities of the local, state, national, and international organizations concerned with protecting the coastal wetlands of Yucatán. Ecotourism associated with viewing flamingos is also substantial, especially in Celestún, and needs to be managed to minimize disturbance to the birds.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range includes the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Hispaniola (Wiley and Wiley 1979) and satellites, southern Bahamas, Netherlands Antilles, northeastern Colombia, and the Galapagos Islands. Apparently this species was formerly resident in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and possibly it is on the verge of recolonizing this area (Raffaele 1989). Former breeding areas also include the Florida Keys (probably), additional areas in the Bahamas, Haiti, and the north coast of South America from Colombia to the Guianas (AOU 1983). As a nonbreeder, this species ranges throughout the Caribbean region and south to South America from Colombia to northeastern Brazil. For example, Haiti is utilized by flamingos mostly for feeding and roosting during nonbreeding, winter dispersal from Great Inagua and perhaps Cuba (Ottenwalder et al. 1990).

Old World populations are now regarded as a distinct species (AOU 2008).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL, UTexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: In Yucatan, Mexico, incubation, nesting building, and other reproductive activities were most frequent in May and June (Espino-Barros and Baldassarre 1989).
Ecology Comments: Forms large flocks (of up to several thousand in nonbreeding season).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: See Espino-Barros and Baldassarre (1989) for information on migration chronology in Yucatan, Mexico, where flamingos breed in the Rio Lagartos Estuary on the north coast and winter primarily about 280 km away on the Celestun Estuary on the west coast.
Estuarine Habitat(s): Bay/sound, Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river, Tidal flat/shore
Habitat Comments: This species is associated with coastal waters, mud flats, lagoons, and lakes (AOU 1998). In Yucatan, Mexico, it commonly feeds in man-made ponds associated with commercial salt operations (Espino-Barros and Baldassarre 1989). Flocks may concentrate where food is most abundant, disperse after depleting food resources (Arengo and Baldassarre 1995).
Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Filter feeder. In Yucatan, Mexico, dominant foods were gastropods, muskgrass bulbils, crustaceans, and chironomids (Arengo and Baldassarre 1995, Condor 97:325-334).
Phenology Comments: In coastal salinas of Venezuela, most birds fed in large flocks in early morning, roosted at mid-day, and resumed feeding in late afternoon-early evening (Bildstein et al. 1991).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Colonial Wading Birds

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Breeding Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding , or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Small heron colonies (rookeries or heronries) are often ephemeral in nature; recommend tracking rookeries which maintain a minimum of 15 active nests over 2-3 years. Where concentrations of non-breeding individuals occur within the boundaries of a breeding occurrence (especially if augmented by migrants), consider creating a separate occurrence with Location Use Class 'Nonbreeding.'
Mapping Guidance: Map Foraging Areas in separate polygons from the breeding colony if they are separated from the colony by areas simply flown over on commuting routes.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Occurrences include breeding colonies and foraging areas, but the separation distance pertains to breediing colonies. Hence, difference occurrences may overlap. Unsuitable habitat: upland areas, except those known to be used regularly for foraging (e.g., meadows used by great egrets).

Separation distance is an arbitrary compromise between the high mobility of these birds and the need for occurrences of practical size for conservation planning. Occurrences do not necessarily represent discrete populations or metapopulations.

Colony fidelity low in some species (e.g. Roseate Spoonbill, Dumas 2000; Glossy Ibis, Davis and Kricher 2000).

Feeding areas associated with a breeding colony (i.e. different features of the same occurrence) may be a number of kilometers away from the colony: averaging 12 kilometers for Roseate Spoonbill (Dumas 2000); 7.3 kilometers for Glossy Ibis (Davis and Kricher 2000); 2.8 to more than 5 kilometers for Snowy Egrets (Smith 1995).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: A low mean foraging range size for this group.
Date: 28Oct2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Roost, Foraging area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of flocks of non-breeding birds (including historical), including non-breeding birds within the breeding season and breeding individuals outside the breeding season; and potential recurring presence at a given location. Normally only areas where concentrations greater than 10 birds occur regularly for at least 20 days per year would be deemed occurrences. Be cautious about creating occurrences for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance arbitrary, set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of manageable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on foraging ranges from breeding rookeries.
Date: 19Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 04May2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 04May2009
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1983. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.

  • Arengo, F. and G. A. Baldassarre. 1999. Resource variability and conservation of American flamingos in coastal wetlands of Yucatan, Mexico. Journal of Wildlife Management 63:1201-1212.

  • Arengo, F. and G. A. Baldassarre. 2002. Patch choice and foraging behavior of nonbreeding American Flamingos in Yucatán, Mexico. Condor 104:452-457.

  • Arengo, F. and G. A. Baldassarre. 1995. Effects of food density on the behavior and distribution of nonbreeding American flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico. Condor 97:325-334.

  • Baldassare, G. A., and F. Arengo. 2000. A review of the ecology and conservation of Caribbean flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico. Waterbirds 23 (Special Publication 1):70-79.

  • Beauchamp, G. and R. McNeil. 2004. Levels of vigilance track changes in flock size in the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber). Ornitologia Neotropical 15:407-412.

  • Bildstein, K. L., P. C. Frederick, and M. G. Spalding. 1991. Feeding patterns and aggressive behavior in juvenile and adult American flamingos. Condor 93:916-925.

  • BirdLife International. 2004b. Threatened birds of the world 2004. CD ROM. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

  • Braun, M. J., D. W. Finch, M. B. Robbins, and B. K. Schmidt. 2000. A field checklist of the birds of Guyana. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

  • Castro, I. and A. Phillips. 1996. A guide to the birds of the Galapagos Islands. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

  • Espino-Barros, R., and G. A. Baldassarre. 1989a. Activity and habitat-use patterns of breeding Caribbean flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico. Condor 91:585-591.

  • Espino-Barros, R., and G. A. Baldassarre. 1989b. Numbers, migration chronology, and activity patterns of nonbreeding Caribbean flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico. Condor 91:592-597.

  • Espinoza, F., L. Parra, J. Aranguren, A. Martino, M. Quijada, D. Pirela, R. Rivero, T. Gutierrez, N. Jimenez, S. Leal, and E. Leon. 2000. Numbers and distribution of the Caribbean flamingo in Venezuela. Waterbirds 23 (Special Publication 1):80-86.

  • Howell, S. N. G., and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

  • Ogilvie, M., and C. Ogilvie. 1986. Flamingos. Gloucester, Great Britain: Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd. 121 pp.

  • Ottenwalder, J. A., C. A. Woods, G. B. Rathburn, and J. B. Thorbjarnarson. 1990. Status of the greater flamingo in Haiti. Colonial Waterbirds 13:115-123.

  • Parker III, T. A., D. F. Stotz, and J. W. Fitzpatrick. 1996. Ecological and distributional databases for neotropical birds. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

  • Raffaele, H. A. 1989a. A guide to the birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Revised edition. Princeton Univ. Press. 220 pp.

  • Raffaele, H., J. Wiley, O. Garrido, A. Keith, and J. Raffaele. 1998. A guide to the birds of the West Indies. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 511 pp.

  • Ridgely, R. S. 2002. Distribution maps of South American birds. Unpublished.

  • Sangster, G. 1997. Species limits in flamingos, with comments on lack of consensus in taxonomy. Dutch Birding 19:193-198.

  • Schmitz, R. A., et al. 1990. Lead poisoning of Caribbean flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 18:399-404.

  • Sibley, C.G., and B.L. Monroe, Jr. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. xxiv + 1111 pp.

  • Sibley, D. A. 2000a. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • The American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). Banks, R.C., R.T. Chesser, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J. Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, D.F. Stotz, and K. Winker. 2008. Forty-ninth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. The Auk 125(3):758-768.

  • Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates - Third edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

  • Wiley, J. W., and B. N. Wiley. 1979. Status of the American flamingo in the Dominican Republic and eastern Haiti. Auk 96:615-619.

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Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
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