Greater Flamingo – The Dramatic Migrator

The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is great indeed, not just to see, but also in its migration, postures, and dramatic photography possibilities. Not only does the greater flamingo have the widest distribution of all the world’s flamingo species, but it also utilizes the most diverse range of habitats that can provide stunning backdrops for every photo.

While not all greater flamingos migrate, those that do have a variety of migration patterns. Northern and western populations migrate seasonally, while greater flamingos in temperate, year-round regions are more nomadic and will migrate when water levels aren’t suitable for feeding or breeding, when there may be too much competition for nesting space within a large colony, or when food levels can’t support as many birds. This can make migration more erratic, but when these birds soar in large, dramatic flocks, it is a sight well worth seeing – if you can see them, as greater flamingos typically migrate at night.

Even more than while soaring in flight, however, greater flamingos can be dramatic with every movement. The subtle shaking of their bills as they forage upside-down in shallow water can give action to profile photos, while their very deliberate and energetic runs to taking off shows the birds’ power as they begin flying. Their contortions while preening can also make for great photos, showing these birds’ flexibility in dramatic poses.

These birds don’t have to be on the move, however, to be fantastic photography subjects. Their long lines and the graceful curves of their necks create fascinating postures from every angle. Even better is a photo that may capture the birds’ reflections, further elongating their poses and exaggerating their unique shape in an eye-catching and memorable way.

However you may capture greater flamingos, every photo can have an impact not just to showcase the bird, but to raise awareness of its true greatness to spark ever more conservation efforts to protect these amazing birds.

Text adapted in part from Migration: Exploring the Remarkable Journeys of Birds; used with permission.