The Greater Flamingo is a winter visitor to Mallorca arriving in late summer and normally departing by April. It is most easily seen at the salt pans in the south with sometimes flocks of over 300 at Salobrar de Campos in Ses Salines and this is a truly unforgettable sight. Each winter in the north of the island there are small numbers at the S’Albufera and most recently there has been a wintering flock at the S’Albufereta of about 30 but these have departed by April.
The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is found in many continents always in estuaries and saline or alkaline lakes. They are always found in colonies both when wintering and breeding giving themselves more protection from predators.
Its feeding habits are helped by its long legs allowing it wade into deeper waters and sometimes even swimming. It stirs the mud at the bottom and filters out in its beak small crustaceans, molluscs, crabs and small fish. The presence of carotenoid pigments in the crustaceans are responsible for its pink plumage.
It breeds in large colonies sometimes numbering thousands building a large nest made of mud with a shallow depression in the top normally on raised sand banks. It lays a single egg which is incubated for around 30 days. The chick leaves the nest after a week or so to join the colonies other chicks but cannot fly until around seven weeks old. The adults do not reach breeding maturity until at least five years old and sometimes longer but can live for up to 40 years old .
It is a large bird being 120- 145 cm with a wingspan 140- 165cm and weighing 2.2- 4.1 kg and is recognisable by its long thin neck and legs, colourful pinkish plumage and its downward bending beak.