Lesser flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor)
Lesser Flamingo Appearance
The lesser flamingo is smaller than the greater flamingo, up to 1.2 m tall, it has the same slender build as the greater flamingo. It has rich pink plumage, with a long neck and long pink legs. In flight the crimson red and black wings are highly conspicuous, these are occasionally visible when the bird is on the ground.
The bill is maroon with a black tip. The lesser flamingo has a yellow eye.
Lesser Flamingo Diet
The lesser flamingo feeds on microscopic blue-green algae and diatoms. When feeding the lesser flamingo can be seen with its head down or submerged in the water, using its legs to stir up the mud to release the algae and organisms, that are then filtered through the beak.
Lesser Flamingo Breeding
The lesser flamingo is monogamous but does breed with a different partner each year. A single egg is laid in a cone mud nest. The egg is incubated for around 30 days by both parents. After hatching the chick spends around 4 days on the nest, then joins a huge “crèche” with all the other chicks in the colony, looked after by a few adult caretakers. These “crèche” groups can number into the thousands of chicks.
Lesser Flamingo Behaviour
The lesser flamingo is highly gregarious and will not breed unless large numbers of flamingos are present. An elaborate group courtship display is performed that involves synchronised wing raising, preening, marching and head turning.
The lesser flamingo is highly nomadic and partially migratory.
Lesser Flamingo Threats
Listed as near threatened. The primary threat to the lesser flamingo is habitat destruction due to pollution in the water and encroachment.
Lesser Flamingo Distribution and Habitat
Lesser flamingos are found on large, shallow wetlands and especially saltpans. They prefer very alkaline lakes.
The best area to see this bird is Kamfers Dam near Kimberley.