Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The overall population is estimated at 550,000-680,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 45,000-62,400 pairs, which equates to 89,900-125,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).
The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).
This species is regularly seen from West Africa eastward throughout the Mediterranean to South West and South Asia, and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The Palearctic population (including West Africa, Iran and Kazakhstan) is estimated to number between 205,000 and 320,000, the South West and South Asian populations combined at 240,000, and the sub-Saharan African populations between 100,000 and 120,000 (Delany and Scott 2006). The Palearctic population appears to be increasing, while the Asian and sub-Saharan African populations appear to be stable (Delany and Scott 2006).
Behaviour Juveniles, and to a lesser extent adults (Mateo et al. 1998), are prone to irregular nomadic or partially migratory movements throughout the species's range in response to water-level changes (Snow and Perrins 1998, Hockey et al. 2005) or food availability (Brown et al. 1982). Members of the Palearctic population are partially migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) and regularly travel to warmer regions in the winter via favoured stop-over sites (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (non-breeders may be present all year round in the wintering areas) (Snow and Perrins 1998, Amat et al. 2005). In the Mediterranean and West Africa, breeding colonies appear to be linked by a significant frequency of juvenile and adult dispersal and are thus considered to belong to a single metapopulation (Balkiz 2006). Members of the Asian populations move from their breeding sites at inland lakes to coastal wetlands during non-breeding periods (Balachandran 2007), and when not breeding the sub-Saharan African population tends to disperse among the alkaline-saline lakes and wetlands of eastern and southern Africa (McCulloch et al. 2003, Baker et al. 2006). The Palearctic population breeds regularly from March to June in large dense single-species colonies of up to 20,000 pairs (occasionally up to 200,000 pairs) (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and in some regions may undergo a post-breeding flightless moult period where adults gather in flocks on inaccessible waters (Flint et al. 1984). The Asian and sub-Saharan populations breed irregularly following the rains, often in large mixed colonies with Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor (Brown and Root 1971, McCulloch and Irvine 2004, Balachandran 2007). The species is gregarious and commonly occurs in flocks of 100 or more outside of the breeding season (Brown et al. 1982), with thousands often flocking together (Brown et al. 1982) in areas rich in food or at freshwater inlets of saline or alkaline lakes to drink and bathe (Snow and Perrins 1998). In sub-Saharan Africa, the species may also join large flocks of non-breeding Lesser Flamingo. The species is a bottom feeder (Snow and Perrins 1998) and forages both by day and night (Brown et al. 1982), feeding by filtering particles through tiny platelets in the bill (Snow and Perrins 1998). It also often roosts at night in large flocks (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat The species inhabits shallow (c.1 m deep over a large area) (Snow and Perrins 1998) eutrophic waterbodies (Hockey et al. 2005) such as saline lagoons, saltpans and large saline or alkaline lakes (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992) up to pH 11 (Snow and Perrins 1998). It will also frequent sewage treatment pans, inland dams (Hockey et al. 2005), estuaries (Brown et al. 1982) and coastal waters (Diawara et al. 2007), seldom alighting on freshwater but commonly bathing and drinking from freshwater inlets entering alkaline or saline lakes (Brown et al. 1982). It nests and roosts on sandbanks (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), mudflats (del Hoyo et al. 1992), islands (Brown et al. 1982) or boggy, open shores (Flint et al. 1984). Diet Its diet consists of crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (especially brine shrimp Artemia salina) (Brown et al. 1982), molluscs, annelid worms, larval aquatic insects, small fish, adult terrestrial insects (e.g. water beetles, ants), the seeds or stolons of marsh grasses, algae, diatoms and decaying leaves (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It may also ingest mud in order to extract organic matter (e.g. bacteria) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The species nests in large dense colonies on mudflats or islands of large waterbodies, occasionally also on bare rocky islands (del Hoyo et al. 1992), with a distance between neighbouring nests of between 20 and 50 cm (Snow and Perrins 1998). The nest is usually an inverted cone of hardened mud (Flint et al. 1984) with a shallow depression on the top (alternatively it may be a small pile of stones and debris when mud is not available) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Management information The removal of sand polluted with lead shot from a salt-lake in Cyprus was successful in significantly reducing the numbers of deaths due to lead poisoning (Miltiadou 2005). At two colonies (one in France and one in Spain) management techniques to counteract erosion and the lack of suitable nesting islands were successfully applied in order to encourage breeding by the species (Martos and Johnson 1996).
The species suffers from low reproductive success if exposed to disturbance at breeding colonies (Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986, Yosef 2000) (e.g. from tourists, low-flying aircraft [Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986] and especially all-terrain vehicles [Yosef 2000]), or if water-levels surrounding nest-sites lower (resulting in increased access to and therefore predation from ground predators such as foxes and feral dogs) (Miltiadou 2005). The lowering of water levels in lakes can also lead to hyper-salinity which may affect food resources (Nasirwa 2000). Other threats to the species's habitat include effluents from soda-ash mining (Nasirwa 2000, Hockey et al. 2005), pollution from sewage and heavy metal effluents from industries (Nasirwa 2000). The species also suffers mortality from lead poisoning (lead shot ingestion) (Mateo et al. 1998, Miltiadou 2005), collisions with fences and powerlines (Hockey et al. 2005), and from diseases such as tuberculosis, septicemia (Nasirwa 2000) and avian botulism (van Heerden 1974). Utilisation In Egypt large numbers of adults are shot or captured to be sold in markets (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and egg collecting from colonies occurs in some areas (this may become a threat) (Ogilvie and Ogilvie 1986).
Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. CITES Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. The following information refers to the species's European range only: The removal of sand polluted with lead shot from a salt-lake in Cyprus was successful in significantly reducing the numbers of deaths due to lead poisoning (Miltiadou 2005). At two colonies (one in France and one in Spain) management techniques to counteract erosion and the lack of suitable nesting islands were successfully applied in order to encourage breeding by the species (Martos and Johnson 1996). The species is also kept and does well in captivity (del Hoyo et al. 2014). The Flamingo Specialist Group was established in 1978 to actively promote flamingo research, conservation and education worldwide.
Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: The conservation of all wetlands used by this species for feeding and breeding is important and breeding sites should be monitored to ensure the continuation of appropriate habitat management techniques (Tucker and Heath 1994). Measures suggested and implemented at the Ebre Delta in Spain include regular surveys and monitoring, raising public awareness, mitigation of damage to rice fields, control of salt pan levels and wardening against disturbance (Curcó et al. 2009).
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Ekstrom, J. & Ashpole, J
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Phoenicopterus roseus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/02/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/02/2023.