The Lesser Flamingo is a species of bird found from Africa (mainly in the Great Rift Valley) to India. It is the smallest of the 4 species of flamingos and also the most numerous. Its main breeding ground is Lake Natron in Tanzania. The high pH of the water makes it difficult for predators to approach. Its plumage is mostly pinkish white. The clearest difference from the Greater Flamingo, the only other species living in the Old World, is the much larger black area of the bill. The size difference is only evident if the two species are side by side. Especially since in each species there is also a difference in size between the sexes.
Previously classified in the genus Phoenicopterus, genus of Pink Flamingos, the Lesser Flamingo has since 2014 been classified more precisely in the Phoeniconaias genus which is specific to it.
Scientific name : Phoeniconaias minor
Family : Phoenicopteridae
Long. de 80 à 105 cm, Env. de 95 à 120 cm
Weight : de 2.200 à 2.700 gr
The lesser flamingo flies in a large V formation. It flies at around 60km/hour and can travel more than 1500km. It flies with neck and legs extended, a little lower than body level.
The Lesser Flamingo occupies shallow salty or alkaline bodies of water in the interior of the continent as well as, to a lesser extent, coastal lagoons. The alkaline lakes of East Africa are very good sites because they are vast. Rich in micro-organisms, these lakes are relatively sheltered from terrestrial predators.
Regime – Diet
In the same way as the Pink Flamingos, it filters the water using its tongue and its beak which it slides along the water after stirring the mud with its legs. The Lesser Flamingo feeds mainly on a cyanobacterium (Arthrospira platensis), spirulina. This actually only develops in very alkaline lakes. Lake Natron is known for its warm and alkaline waters. The bird’s thick bill is specialized for grasping tiny-sized foods.
The couples unite and build a mud nest about thirty centimeters high to ward off possible flooding and maintain freshness. During this period, several thousand individuals made up these colonies. These are also often mixed with those of pink flamingos. Like all flamingos, the female lays a single chalky white egg on a pile of mud. Both parents take care of incubation for 28 days.
After six days, the chick joins the colony’s crèche and therefore mixes with the others. The learning of life begins. After a week, he will know how to run. At four weeks he will have his feathers, finally he will know how to fly after twelve.
Africa has three breeding sites for the Lesser Flamingo. However, no particular protection concerns these sites. These are unfortunately exposed to heavy metal pollution. Their only advantage is that they are located in reserves or national parks.
The flight call of the lesser flamingo is a high-pitched “kwirrik”. Birds feeding or walking also make a low murmur “murrrh-murrrh-errh”.