Can Flamingos Fly?

can flamingos fly
Photo by MartinMecnarowski/

When you think of birds, one of the first things you think of is flight. But not all birds fly, and it’s usually the larger ones that remain rooted to the ground. So, can flamingos fly?

Can Flamingos Fly?

Yes, flamingos can fly. Most of the photos and videos of them are taken while they’re on the ground, or more specifically in water, because they love to hang out in shallow water (why leave where your meals are?). Also, flamingos in zoos normally have their flight feathers trimmed so they can’t fly out of their enclosures. For those reasons, some people have the misconception that these fabulous fowls are flightless, but that’s not the case.

flamingos flying
Photo by vimpro/

Flamingos can reach up to 40 miles per hour in the air if they have supportive winds helping them along over long distances, but they generally fly at 35 miles per hour during short trips. Like most other birds, they try to use their wings to propel themselves forward as little as possible while flying, aiming to let the wind do the work while the bird can conserve energy.

The thing is, flamingos don’t fly all that often. They’d really rather walk or swim. Flamingos can withstand environments most other living creatures on earth can’t, so hanging out in hellishly hot water that has food can be a pretty sweet setup. But situations sometimes call for these birds to take to the skies. Generally, the reasons that flamingos would fly are either to escape or avoid predators to return back to the water or elsewhere where they’re safe or to head to another spot to feed that’s not too far away. Flamingos spend much more of their time grounded than they do in flight.

Can All Flamingo Species Fly?

Yes, all flamingo species can fly, but they don’t all live in the same kind of situation. Depending upon where they live, they might be required to fly more or less often and over shorter or greater distances. This is all dependent on their environments and their demands.

Do Flamingos Migrate?

A common reason for birds to fly is to migrate to somewhere warmer during the colder winter months, then to make the return trip home during the warmer summer months. Flamingos don’t all do this - a good number of flamingos live in habitats that don’t require them to leave at any point during the year - but some of them have to. For example, Andean flamingos that live 10,000-plus feet above sea level can’t stick around for the winter when their nearby lakes freeze. It’s a requirement for them to find somewhere warmer to spend those months.

If flamingos do migrate long distances, they normally do it with a larger flamboyance or even as an entire colony. They’ll aim for clear nights to make the trip to keep out of sight of predators.