Lesser flamingo

This bird holds a Guinness book of world records to its name

Savithri Singh

A species that paints a striking picture against the landscape of its habitat with its vibrant pink and crimson plumage and stilt-like legs. As the smallest species in the flamingo family, Lesser Flamingos exhibit a delicate beauty, but their resilience and adaptability to some of the most challenging environments are truly remarkable.

Lesser Flamingos prefer habitats with high alkalinity, such as lagoons and salty lakes, where they can feed on their primary diet of algae and diatoms that thrive in these conditions. The high salinity of these habitats is inhospitable to most predators, providing the flamingos with a safe breeding ground. Males, slightly larger than females, play a role in the selection of nesting sites and participate in nest building, which is done by mounding up mud to keep their eggs above the caustic water.

Non-breeding Lesser Flamingos can often be found in more varied environments, including coastal mudflats, man-made saltworks, and sewage treatment works, which offer abundant food sources. They are a nomadic species capable of traveling great distances across continents in search of food and optimal breeding sites. Their range extends across Africa and into parts of southern Asia, including India, Pakistan, and even the Middle East, demonstrating their wide ecological niche.

The mating rituals of the Lesser Flamingo are a sight to behold. Courtship is a year-round spectacle where birds gather in groups, ranging from a handful to several thousand, and engage in synchronized displays. They perform a march, where they stride together in one direction, then switch and march the opposite way, all while honking, head-flagging, and flapping their wings in a coordinated dance that reinforces social bonds and stimulates breeding readiness.

One of the most spectacular gatherings of Lesser Flamingos occurs in Tanzania, where they congregate in the hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions, at lakes such as Lake Natron. This congregation is not only one of the largest of any flamingo species in the world but also one of the most breathtaking wildlife spectacles on the planet.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2018
Vagrant
Angola
2018
Non-Breeding
Botswana
2018
Burundi
2018
Non-Breeding
Cameroon
2018
Non-Breeding
Chad
2018
Non-Breeding
Comoros
2018
Non-Breeding
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2018
Non-Breeding
Djibouti
2018
Non-Breeding
Egypt
2018
Vagrant
Eritrea
2018
Non-Breeding
Eswatini
2018
Non-Breeding
Ethiopia
2018
Non-Breeding
Gabon
2018
Non-Breeding
Gambia
2018
Non-Breeding
Ghana
2018
Non-Breeding
Guinea-Bissau
2018
Non-Breeding
Guinea
2018
Non-Breeding
India
2018
Iran
2018
Non-Breeding
Kenya
2018
Non-Breeding
Lesotho
2018
Non-Breeding
Madagascar
2018
Non-Breeding
Malawi
2018
Non-Breeding
Mauritania
2018
Non-Breeding
Mauritius
2018
Vagrant
Morocco
2018
Vagrant
Mozambique
2018
Non-Breeding
Namibia
2018
Niger
2018
Non-Breeding
Nigeria
2018
Non-Breeding
Oman
2018
Non-Breeding
Pakistan
2018
Non-Breeding
Rwanda
2018
Non-Breeding
Réunion
2018
Vagrant
Saudi Arabia
2018
Non-Breeding
Senegal
2018
Non-Breeding
Sierra Leone
2018
Non-Breeding
Somalia
2018
Non-Breeding
South Africa
2018
Spain
2018
Vagrant
Sri Lanka
2018
Non-Breeding
Sudan
2018
Non-Breeding
São Tomé & Príncipe
2018
Non-Breeding
Tanzania
2018
UAE
2018
Non-Breeding
Uganda
2018
Non-Breeding
Yemen
2018
Non-Breeding
Zambia
2018
Non-Breeding
Zimbabwe
2018
Non-Breeding

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No