Do Flamingos Have Tails?

Photo by SoosJozsef/

Flamingos are fascinating creatures. Their odd attributes are abundant, and they are part of what make the fabulous fowl such a wonderfully unique bird. This got me - and some curious Google searchers - wondering: do flamingos have tails?

Do Flamingos Have Tails?

Yes, technically, flamingos do have tails.

When looking at the back of a flamingo, you can notice a sharp point at the back. This is the coming together of their tertial feathers, which don’t work the same as many other bird tail feathers. Flamingo tertial feathers begin on the wings and are mainly for protecting primary and secondary feathers - better known as flight feathers - when the birds are on land with their wings folded. They can grow to be fairly long, though, and form a small tail in the back of flamingos.

Photo by Sandiz/

The back of flamingo bodies does come to a bit of a point, too, which can be especially seen when one of the birds stretches just so and lifts its tertial feathers up enough in the process. But it isn’t particularly large or protruding - what you see hanging off the back of flamingos is feathers.

How Important Are Flamingo Tails?

Tails serve important purposes for all birds that have them. They can provide aid in a myriad of ways depending on their size, shape, and makeup, from increasing maneuverability to help slowing down or stopping in mid-air and much more.

Flamingos do fly but much less than most other birds. They don’t generally have much of a reason to take to the skies. Their food is hiding in muddy, alkaline waters, they are generally in tropical climates that don’t change a ton throughout the year, and they are preyed upon much less than other birds. But sometimes, duty calls, and flamingos do fly to reach their destination.

Because their tails don’t stick out much, they aren’t huge parts of flamingo flight. They still play a role, like they do for other birds of flight. They help the birds fly indirectly as well - their main purpose is to keep the flight feathers safe from the elements and ruffling. In that way, the feathers that make up flamingo tails do keep the fowl flying.

Are Flamingo Tails Always Pink?

No, flamingo tails are not only pink. In fact, it’s common for them not to be.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you likely know by now that the fabulous fowl transitions into its famous pink hue as it ages into adulthood. This occurs as it stores up on nutritious foods, like algae and shrimp, that contain beta carotene. Flamingos possess an enzyme that breaks down the beta carotene, and its red-orange pigments are absorbed into the liver. Flamingos that are too young to have consumed enough beta carotene to turn pink or are otherwise malnourished are often white, grey, or a weaker pink/red color.

Flamingos’ tertial feathers become pink the same way the rest of their feathers do. This means that their tails are not always pink, but it explains why most flamingos you come across do have pink tails.

Do Flamingo Tails Get Longer with Age?

Yes, they grow as you would expect them to. Younger flamingos have shorter, less pronounced hind tails that become more pointed and eye-catching as they build themselves through sustained nutrition and natural progress.

1 comment

  • joy

    I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy this email every time I receive one. I have loved flamingos since I was a little girl and am pleased to know I’m not the only one!! Also, this website kicks tail feathers! I got my sister in law some floating ’mingos for the pool and will be purchasing some more things for myself (get more rings!!) So thank you for all of this! It makes me happy:)

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