Flamingos in Spain

By Jackie De Burca – Follow Jackie on Twitter

Apart from on television or in a zoo, the very first time I saw flamingos was in the Delta de l’Ebro in Catalonia, Spain. Through a magical, shimmering haze that attracted film location scouts for the likes of Sahara and U2, I observed a flock of pink flamingos.

Through the mirage, they were like a group of pink elegant feathered friends just hanging out and chatting. But the flamingo friends’ formation would change every once in a while. A few would take flight, others glided and waded, some ducked and dived for a bit of nutritious food. All done gracefully and of course, pretty in pink.

flamingoes delta de l'ebro

Flamingos in Spain

In Spain, there are a number of other places where you can see flamingos in natural habitats. They love a good lagoon, a mirky old mudflat and some squishy, salty marshes. You can hang out with flamingos both on the coast and in some inland areas of Spain. However, one of my favourite Flamingo Hotspots is the Delta de l’Ebro.

Flamingos in Delta de l’Ebro

These beautiful pink birds have found an ideal refuge in the Ebro Delta Natural Park. An oasis of tranquility and abundant food. Among the 7,000 hectares that separate Punta del Cuerno del Trabucador from El Fangar (the two ends of the Ebro Delta), more than 4,000 breeding pairs have been recorded in one year. A number that is increasing. For this reason, the Ebro Delta is one of the best places in Catalonia to see flamingos.

Flamingos appearance

As well as striking a stylish pose, their feathers are predominantly a pinkish-white hue. However, the flamingo’s wing plumage is red with black feathers underneath. Plus you will notice that they have a distinct rosy beak with a black tip.

Observing and photographing these birds, along with other bird species, is an exciting activity. The Ebro Delta is the only territory in Catalonia where flamingos nest. There you can see these birds throughout the year. Any month is good to see them As for the best hours of the day to see these elegant birds, sunrise and sunset are ideal times.

When the sun rises, large flocks of flamingos take flight and disperse along the coastline. Seeing them fly while the orange of a brand new day is breaking through the sky is a wonderful experience.

flamingos delta de l'ebro

Breeding time

In late February, flamingos will prepare their crater-type nests fashioned from mud and branches. They breed in colonies from March to May. Each pregnant female flamingo lays one egg only.

An impressive Flamingo Fact, both Mum and Dad take turns sitting on the egg, which hatches one month later. Baby flamingos are very quick learners and it isn’t long before they can fly with the flock.

Flamingo-watching places around the Delta Ebro

Next to MónNatura Delta del Ebre, there are small wooden observatories ideal for seeing flamingos. It is one of the areas from where you can see these birds more closely. The La Tancada observatory is oriented to the Old Sant Antoni Salt Flats, located right next to the Laguna de la Tancada.

The Riet Vell Reserve is a 52-hectare estate in the Ebro Delta that has been managed for years by the SEO/BirdLife association. On this farm, the cultivation of organic rice is combined with the conservation and maintenance of lagoons, which are a valued refuge for birds. Within this reserve, there is a bird observatory open to the public.

The Bahía del Fangar, where large numbers of flamingos also tend to gather, is also an ideal place to look for and photograph birds. It is usually more difficult to see them up close because they are often in the middle of the bay. However, walking along the paths of Lo Goleró is always a delight for the senses. It is an area full of calm. The essence of the Ebro Delta.

Laguna de la Tancada, the second-largest lagoon in the Ebro Delta, is another area where you can almost always see flamingos. In fact, it is the lagoon with the highest density of flamingos in the Natural Park. This lagoon is also ideal for looking for many of the other birds that can be seen within the natural park. You can consult the birdwatching guide of the natural park here.

The Bahía de los Alfacs is another ideal spot to look for flamingos in the Ebro Delta in less frequented areas. Specifically, it is worth taking the paths that approach the Torre de Sant Joan, a construction from 1575. It is not necessary to reach the Tower, it is best to approach the Bay from any of the roads.

With luck, especially in the morning, you will be able to see small groups of flamingos from quite close. A good option is to follow the Desagüe de la Fortaleza to a small jetty. And another alternative is to go to the Embarcadero de las Madalenes. The sunsets from here are usually magical.

Tips for watching flamingos in the Delta de l’Ebro

Whenever activities are done to see and photograph wild animals, these basic aspects must be taken into account: Silence: Noise and crowds scare the flamingos. So you have to be stealthy.

Binoculars – Flamingos are not usually very trusting. So the best thing to be able to observe them in detail is to bring a pair of binoculars.

Use the observatories: the park’s public observatories, such as the Tancada observatories, are perfect for not disturbing the fauna in the area.

These above tips and placea have been translated from this article.

Let’s finish off with a Flamingo Flourish

Any idea of what flamingos symbolise?

Key attributes associated with Flamingo Spirit include cooperation, beauty, brightness, joy, family, relationships, healing, open-heartedness, equality, alliance, clan/tribe ties, and our destiny.

Native habitats for Flamingos include the West Indies and the Galapagos Islands for the American Flamingo. Andean, Chilean, and James’ Flamingos reside in South America. Greater and Lesser Flamingos are in Africa and the Middle East. All are water birds that stay near lakes, lagoons, and other wetlands unless something happens to water levels that cause their retreat. When it comes to Flamingo Spirit and the Water Element, the two are nearly inseparable.

Evidence suggests that Flamingos evolved some 30 million years ago. Its earliest ancestors were the palaelodus, who stood 5 feet tall; this creature could swim underwater, gathering food using its beak. The best-preserved signs of Flamingos come from the Andes Mountains some seven million years ago. This ancient bird was alive at the same time as a moose-like Giraffe in Africa and the Gorillas, who were branching off of Great Apes. The world was transforming, and Flamingo bore witness to it all.

The iconic one-footed Flamingo has beautiful pink feathers, a color that comes from their diet, namely brine shrimp and algae. The brighter the pink, the healthier the bird. Scientists aren’t sure why Flamingo keeps a leg in the air, but there’s no question they could give a Yogi a run for the money in a balance competition. What many people do not realize is that the Flamingo is an accomplished flier as well. With this in mind, Flamingo has ties to the Earth and Air Elements, too.

Flamingos are also very social creatures who like living in large groups. The largest documented flock of Flamingos numbered over one million in East Africa. They develop bonds when mating but may have more than one partner in a group. The cooperative spirit of Flamingo is something the creature illustrates in the way it builds, tends to, and defends its nest together. In the interest of true liberation and diversity, Flamingos have same-sex couples too!

In considering the symbols and meanings of the Flamingo Spirit, we must consider her color. The color Pink is a playful, charming hue that resonates with harmony, friendship, openness, tenderness, and a smattering of romance for good measure. The pink Flamingo represents serenity and a contented life (you could say they are “tickled pink”).

Extending this, Flamingo can represent our social nature and desire to create community ties we can trust. Being part of something where we can express ourselves without constraint is a natural balance to our professional lives. We must always have at least one proverbial leg on which to stand.

There is a folk tale (unknown origin) called the Magic Flamingo that illustrates the gentle nature of this bird and the exquisiteness of its feathers. The story begins with a childless couple. The husband was walking one day and saw a beautiful Flamingo caught in a trap. He immediately rescued it, and it flew off into the sky.

Later that day, a young girl knocked at their door, asking to spend the night. They, of course, said, “Yes.” The girl went on to explain she had no parents of her own. The couple asked if she would become their daughter and live with them. She joyfully agreed.

After some days, she went to her new parents and made a request. She would make them cloth on a loom, but only if they would not watch her working. They could not glance even once. While they thought it was an odd request, they agreed.

Each day she gave them another beautiful pink cloth. The couple became increasingly curious. Eventually, the old woman could not contain herself anymore. When she peeked into the room, she found a stunning pink Flamingo using her feathers to weave the cloth.

The girl explained that she was the Flamingo, the man saved, and she wanted to return the kindness. Sadly, the spell was now broken, and she would remain in the form of a Flamingo. So, she took to the air, dipping her wings, and left and was never seen again. This type of folktale applies to a variety of Animals, with minor changes, around the world. It is a lesson on counting your blessings and being a champion for keeping trust.

In Egypt, people associated Flamingos with the sun God Ra, and people treated them with great care. Peruvian stories depicted them as birds sacred to various heroes or protectors of humankind. Many cultures consider the Flamingo an emblem of healing and love.

As an interesting aside, it appears that Flamingos in America had their beginning in Florida. Eggs dating from the late 1800s appear in historical references. For a while, the Birds disappeared due to overhunting. But, Flamingos are now making a comeback and are protected by both State and Federal mandates. There indeed is no place like home!

The Flamingo Symbolism is thanks to What Is My Spirit Animal.