Lesser Flamingo

African Veldt

Location

In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Phoeniconaias minor
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Phoenicopteridae
Genus: Phoeniconaias

Size

Male

Female

Height: 31-36 inches 31-36 inches
Wingspan: 3-3.4 feet 3-3.4 feet
Weight: 3-4.5 pounds 3-4.5 pounds
Maturity: 6 years 6 years

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Omnivorous
Activity Timeframe: Diurnal
Interactivity: Social
Sexual Dimorphism: No
Gestation: 28 days
Lifespan in the Wild: 40 years
Lifespan in Captivity:

Geographic Range

Primarily Eastern and Southern Africa. Populations also found in India, Pakistan, and Western Africa

Conservation

Status in the Wild: Near Threatened
Threats: Habitat Loss

Characteristics

All six species of flamingo are recognized by their long legs, pink plumage and long flexible necks.

Species Specifics

There are six species that make up the family Phoenicopteridae: greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, Chilean flamingo, Andean flamingo, James� flamingo and American flamingo. The lesser flamingo is the smallest of the species.

Physical Characteristics

Long legs to wade into deeper water than other bird species. Webbed feet support them on soft mud. Their long neck can reach food underwater, and the curved bill helps them to filter feed on the bottom. The bill is held upside down in the water. While the bird sucks in water, minute organisms are filtered out by a comb-like projection of the tongue. Large food particles, and water exit through slits in their bill.

Ecology

Habitat

Large, undisturbed alkaline and saline lakes, salt pans or coastal lagoons.

Distribution

Diet

Filter feeder specializing in single-celled phytoplankton and benthic diatoms

Ecological Web

Generally, lesser flamingos live in habitats that have few food options for other animals, thus have few natural predators. Although large birds like the vulture and stork can threaten the survival of flamingo offspring.The land surrounding the water habitat can be dangerous with the threat of large cats including lions, tigers, cheetahs, and leopards. Smaller predators including jackals and hyenas are lighter in weight and can attack the flamingo in the muddy ground; an advantage over the heavier big cats.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Flamingos can be diurnal and nocturnal as needed. This obligate filter feeder often feeds at night and early morning when the surface of the water is calm. Travel occurs at night where they will fly in flocks with different formations to take advantage of varying wind conditions. Predators are also avoided by flying at night.

Behavior

These gregarious birds flock together in colonies. The size of the flock can vary from a few birds to tens of thousands of birds. Large flock size is an advantage to avoid predators.During mating season, the flocks separate into smaller flocks. Mating rituals occur, including head and wing movements. Flamingos will synchronize movements in their elaborate displays.Flamingo young are safer within the flock. Chicks form groups called cr�ches.

Social Behavior

A very social bird. They feed, lounge, and fly in flocks.

Reproductive Behavior

Monogamous. Parents will build a tall, 12 in. high conical nest in the mud, in order to avoid flooding and to help with cooling. The single egg is attended to by both parents. Once hatched, the chick is fed 'crop milk' by both parents and other flock members.

Offspring

1 egg, with approximately 28 days incubationChick fledges 70-75 days

Conservation

Status

Listed as near threatened by IUCN

Historical

Evolved from microphagous, wading birds, with their distribution aligned with hypersaline lakes and great deserts.

Current Threats

Habitat Loss

Our Role

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

Flamingos get their pink color from pigments in bacteria, called spirulina.

They have a poor sense of taste and no sense of smell.

Adults are flightless for three weeks during their molt.

Flamingos often stand on one leg. The curled leg is tucked close to the body for added warmth.

References

Birdlife International

Oregon Zoo

Childress et all, 2008

Victoria Jane Robinson "Ecology of East African Soda Lakes"

Wildscreen Arkive

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