Lesser Flamingo

Lesser Flamingo

Birds

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: lesser flamingo
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Ciconiiformes
FAMILY: Phoenicopteridae
GENUS SPECIES: Phoeniconaias (crimson water nymph) minor (smaller)

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: The lesser flamingo is a tall, large bodied bird with a long neck and small head. Most flamingos, including this species, have pale pink plumage, legs, and bills. The lesser flamingo is one of the smallest and the brightest of the flamingos.
SIZE: Approximately 80-90 cm (31-36 in) long
FEMALE Females tend to be smaller than males
WEIGHT: Approximately 1.5-2 kg (3-4.5 lb.)
DIET: Includes algae and diatoms. Feeds with head at the surface instead of submerged.
INCUBATION: 28 day average
CLUTCH SIZE Usually 1 large egg
FLEDGING DURATION 70-75 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 6 years
LIFE SPAN: In the wild, up to 50 years
RANGE: Found primarily in eastern and southern Africa. Small populations exist in western Africa and Pakistan.
HABITAT: Inhabits tropical alkaline and saline lakes, and occasionally coastal lagoons
POPULATION: GLOBAL Estimated at roughly 5,000,000 individuals
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Appendix II
USFWS Lower Risk/Near Threatened

FUN FACTS

1. The name flamingo is originally derived from the Portuguese language and means "red goose", which is a reference to their flying formation and the noise they make.
2. Lesser flamingos are believed to be the most numerous and live in the largest flocks. Some flocks are known to contain up to one million lesser flamingos and several thousand greater flamingos.
3. Flamingos feed with their bill upside-down. They tip their head into the water and filter feed, using special adaptations in the top half of their bill to gather the microorganisms that make up their diet. However, the lesser flamingo rarely submerges its head while feeding instead it feeds at the surface.
4. Flamingos are an ancient group of birds. Their fossil records dates back to the Miocene epoch, which is about 10 million years ago.
5. Flamingos are not born with their beautiful pink plumage. Their color comes from the carotenoid pigments they consume as part of their diet. Some scientists believe that a flamingo's success in breeding relies on its bright color.
6. The flamingo is unique in that the adults, both male and female, provide their young with a type of milk called crop milk.
7. For more information about flamingos, explore the flamingo info book.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Flamingos have few natural predators because they live in remote, inhospitable places.

Their feeding strategy, feeding in alkaline or saline bodies of water, does not affect other species.

Their uses to man are unfortunately the flamingos greatest problem. In the past, their tongues were a rare, pickled delicacy and their eggs were collected for human consumption. However, as with most animals, habitat destruction and exploitation is by far the flamingo's greatest challenge.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Austin, O. L. Birds of the World. Golden Press, New York. 1961.

Harrison, C.J.O., and Perrins, C. Birds: Their Life, Their Ways, Their World. Reader's Digest Association, Inc., New York. 1987.

Perrins, C. and A. Middleton. The Encyclopedia of Birds. Facts on File Publications, New York. 1985.

SeaWorld Education Department Publication. Flamingos: SeaWorld, Inc. 1994.