Lesser Flamingo Species Information

wikipediaAs its name suggests, the Lesser Flamingo is the smallest member of the flamingo family, the female being less than half the weight of the male Greater Flamingo. The Lesser Flamingo is pale to dark pink and has a characteristic deep-keeled dark red bill, with the lower half appearing black at a distance. The bill is adapted to take only small algae, also called cyanobacterias, which the flamingo filters carefully from the water surface. Each flamingo consumes about 60g of algae a day. Like any flamingo, the Lesser Flamingo lives in colonies that can count up to a million birds.

The pink color of the Lesser Flamingo comes from carotenoid pigments contained inside the cyanobacterias it consumes. Carotenoids are yellow to red pigments, usually found in plants and bacterias. Because the birds are not capable of synthetizing this pigment, they rely exclusively on their diet to maintain their color. As a result, birds kept in captivity without carotenoid supplements appear duller in color than wild flamingoes.

The Lesser Flamingo gathers in flocks on the alkaline lakes of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. Outside the breeding season, huge feeding flocks congregate at sites such as Lake Bogona and Lake Naraku in Kenya. In South Africa, the Lesser Flamingo only breeds at Kamfer Dam in Kimberley.

Each flamingo pair lays a single egg every year, on top of a mud nest built on the shores of a large lake. The parents only regularly feed their young for a couple of weeks, the fledglings becoming capable of feeding themselves as soon as their beaks start growing the structures used for filtering the algae out of the water. The young flamingoes are quickly independent and remain in crèche for a few weeks, under the supervision of adults.

Flamingoes are prey to numerous predators, such as Baboons, Wildcats, Wolves, but also other birds like Marabou storks and Fish eagles. The human expansion has increased the threats weighing on these birds. Pollution and removal of breeding grounds for human activities have lessened the number of birds. As a result, the Lesser Flamingo is considered Near Threatened.

Quick facts

Length80 - 90cm
Weight1,5 - 2kg
Wingspan90 - 105cm
ResidenceMigratory bird
HabitatInland saline and alkaline lakes, usually with extensive mudflats and coastal lagoons

Source: Wikipedia, BirdLife Bird Encyclopedia