The elegant pink birds of the Galápagos
What you need to know about the Greater Flamingo
The Greater Flamingo is the only flamingo species resident on the Galápagos. The current population is estimated to be between 400 and 500 individuals. These beautiful and elegant birds breed in small colonies at any time from June to March, and you will often see them building their mud nests in the salt-water lagoons where they live, breed and feed.
All our Galápagos cruises will feature excursions to the flamingos’ lagoon homes, and our expert naturalist guides will explain the feeding and mating behaviors of the birds as they feeding on the tiny krill, mollusks, and crabs that thrive in the brackish water.
It is the carotenoid pigments contained in these tiny creatures that give the Galápagos Greater Flamingos their beautiful pink coloring. During the breeding season, the birds also preen using a secretion from a special gland that also contains these carotenoids which enhances their pink color even more. It might be said that the Galápagos Greater Flamingo like to wear a little makeup!
The Galápagos Flamingo population is holding steady, but the Galápagos National Park service hold regular population censuses to monitor their breeding success. The main threat to flamingos would be from any damage to their salt-lagoon habitat or the effects of serious weather events such as El Nino. The largest colonies of Galápagos Flamingos can be found on Floreana Island, Isabela Island, Santiago, and Santa Cruz.
Greater Flamingo: Interesting facts
Flamingos flock together both for protection and to maximise the feeding in any one location
Galápagos flamingos enjoy brine shrimps and blue-green algae, which they filter from the mud and silt with their remarkable bills
Galápagos flamingos form strong pair bonds and male and the female flamingos build and defend their nest together
Scientist have experimented on flamingo skeletons and they have found the reason these birds often stand on one leg is because they require no muscle effort to do so!