Due to the shape of its beak, color, and height, it is practically impossible to confuse this species with another Iberian species.
Unless with its African relative, the Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor), whose observation in the Iberian Peninsula is rare. However, it should be taken into account that within the species “Phoenicopterus roseus” there are very considerable variations in size.
As a rule, the Greater Flamingo does not show a visible dimorphism in its plumage, but it does in its size and weight. Adult males can exceed one and a half meters in height and in extreme cases can slightly exceed 4 kilograms.
It is possible to recognize 3 different ages:
Juvenile specimen: shows dark plumage, normally dark brown with some black brushstrokes. Shoulder feathers as well as the back, with brownish edges and with the interior of the feather lighter. The legs are also very dark. The neck of these individuals will be somewhat lighter in the throat area, but as the neck rises it darkens to brown and/or blackish tones. The beak is also dark in color.
2nd year specimens: they have a back and scapulars that are almost white. The secondary coverts are still brown. The beak has lightened up a lot except for the tip. The legs are slightly lighter.
Adult specimens: they have a basic white-rosaceous plumage with a slightly vivid pink color, especially in secondary coverts (G, M, and L), infra-coverts, and axillary feathers. The primaries and most of the secondaries are pure black and the rest are dyed a strong dark brilliant pink almost scarlet. The naked skin of the throat is pink, the beak in its two thirds is also pink and the terminal third is black. The long legs, whose tarsi alone measure 24 to 34.5 cm., are of intense pink color (as a rule) and the eyes are yellow.
The Greater Flamingo has a very changing molting process from one population to another. Variables to take into account: frequency; complete, partial, or gradual molts; molting time, etc.
Primaries: 11 per wing.
Secundaries: 24-26 per wing.