Are Flamingos Dangerous?

Are Flamingos Dangerous? How Many People Have Flamingos Killed?

Flamingos are a beautiful sight to behold, but it is best to proceed with caution around them. Are flamingos dangerous? We also look at how they show their aggression towards humans and each other.

Flamingos are not aggressive to people. They are social, often living in large colonies. You can find them in great, big herds in and around lakes and lagoons.

However, that does not mean that you can go ahead and touch their feathers or feed these beautiful birds without worry. They may not like it, and it’s best to know the danger signs and stay away from them.

In this article, we explore when and why flamingos can be dangerous and why staying at a distance is the best policy.

Are Flamingos Dangerous
Are Flamingos Dangerous

When Are Flamingos Dangerous?

Flamingos are mild and usually co-exist peacefully with other birds. They are territorial when foraging for food and protective of their nests and eggs. 

Another reason flamingos sometimes get aggressive is when they mistake you for a threat while you are trying to touch them, feed them, or get too close to them. 

Among each other, they also get aggressive when they are competing for courtship or for establishing pair bonds. When it is pursuing a mate, a male flamingo can be a dangerous bird.

How Dangerous Are They?

Mostly, they are harmless. However, it is still a good idea to maintain a distance from them. They are, after all, wild birds. Remember that flamingos have sharp claws and hooked beaks, which can be used to attack a perceived threat. 

A study on lesser Flamingos, the smallest of the six flamingo species and a native of Sub-Saharan Africa, showed that the deeper the color of the flamingo, the more aggressive they are. This is likely because brighter flamingos are healthier.

Another interesting point that the study came out with was that most fighting among them occurred when flamingos were fed in closed quarters.

The key takeaway would be: stay away from dense flocks of bright, pink-colored flamingos!

How Do They Show Aggression?

When flamingos feel threatened, they would generally cock their head in the direction of perceived danger as a warning.  They also flap their wings and make noises as a warning. 

If you still try to go near and feed them, an aggressive bird might start pecking and scratching you with their wings. If you get caught in such a situation, you should distance yourself from them slowly and cautiously.

If you venture too close to a flamingo’s nest, a flamingo might think that you are a threat and attack you.

Flamingos don’t generally travel far from their nests. If you come across an unattended nest, do not get too close because a flamingo would be nearby. 

Do They Bite?

No, they don’t have teeth to bite. They have ridges in their beak that help to filter food from water, but these ridges are not sharp enough to bite someone.

That said, flamingos have a curved and sharp beak, and if they feel threatened, they might use it to peck at you. However, flamingo pecks and scratches are not serious and, more often than not, do not require urgent care.

As we mentioned before, brightly colored flamingos are more likely to be aggressive. You may get a few bruises if you engage with them.

Are They Carnivorous?

Two Flamingos Drinking Water
Two Flamingos Drinking Water

Flamingos have an omnivorous diet. Flamingos consume algae, tiny crustaceans (like brine shrimp), plants and animals that live in shallow waters, small seeds, shrimp-like critters, mollusks, and fly larvae. 

While eating, flamingos place their beaks upside-down in water and take in both water and food. Then they push the water back out from their beaks while retaining food. 

That said, there’s no risk of a flamingo eating a human, so if that’s what you are worried about, don’t be!

Can They Attack You?

Flamingos won’t attack unless you invade their space. Even if they do attack you, it’s not likely to get very violent.

Their pecks and scratches might warrant a bit of first aid, but you will definitely not end up in a hospital. In fact, there has been no reported case of death caused by a flamingo attack worldwide.

Here’s how a flamingo can peck at a human:

Can They Attack Each Other?

It is not uncommon for flamingos to attack each other. They mostly fight with each other over food, and this occurs mostly when one flamingo has caught fish or has been fed by a human. The bigger flamingos win in this case because of their size.

Male flamingos also attack each other if they are trying to impress a single female. The female usually decides to mate with the stronger one. Hence, each flamingo tries to overpower the other when fighting over a female.

However, just like humans, flamingos form social bonds that last. They have lasting friends as well as long enmities. Besides flamingo couples,  flamingo friends also share close and deep bonds. 

Can You Keep Flamingos As Pets?

Flamingos look quite beautiful, and it might be tempting to keep them as pets, but it is not a good idea. First of all, flamingos are wild animals by nature, and it is against their nature to be domesticated. 

Secondly, flamingos are expensive. Flamingos are classified as exotic animals, and purchasing them is an expensive affair. One flamingo can set you back by around $2,500- $3,000.

Since flamingos are social animals, they would not be able to survive alone for a long time. Purchasing a pair of flamingos would cost you around $5000 or more.

Maintaining them is also quite expensive.

Lastly, keeping flamingos as pets is illegal in many countries. And in countries where domesticating them is legal, you’d still require a permit. It is a long and tedious process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Flamingos Like Humans?

Flamingos are docile and passive by nature and are generally neutral towards humans. If you don’t invade their space, they will be nice to you. 


Can I Touch A Flamingo?

Flamingos look exceptionally beautiful, and you might be tempted to touch them, but you should restrain yourself.
It is not wise to touch a flamingo because they are protective by nature, and if they feel you are a threat, they might get a little aggressive.


Are Flamingos The Deadliest Birds?

Not at all. Flamingos are docile and passive, and unlike other wild animals, they won’t go out of their way to attack humans. There have been no major accidents reported due to flamingo attacks anywhere.
Some birds that are known for their attacks on humans include the southern cassowary, the ostrich, the great horned owl, the barred owl, and the emus.


Do Black Flamingos Exist?

Black Flamingos are incredibly beautiful and incredibly rare. A black flamingo was spotted in April 2015 at the Akrotiri Environmental Centre on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus during a flamingo count. In 2013, scientists also saw a black flamingo in Israel.
Group of Flamingos
Group of Flamingos


Are Flamingos migratory birds?

They are non-migratory birds, but because of climatic changes, their colonies are not always permanent. For example, in Delhi, India, they shifted locations looking for food sources that are only found in shallow waters. They also moved to Mumbai in large numbers in April 2019 in search of algae.
Sadly many of their breeding grounds are getting destroyed due to human callousness and due to lack of food, some flamingos are starving to death. The fragile ecosystems that support their feeding are getting polluted, killing off the algae and crustaceans that these birds feed on.

Wrap up

Flamingos are one of the most beautiful bird species on earth. The more you read about them, the more fascinated you are. 

Flamingos are also peace-loving and social animals and would not go out of their way to harm anyone. But you should keep your guard around them and respect their space because they are territorial. 

Flamingos do give a few warning signs before they attack you, so it would be best to heed these signs.

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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