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Lesser Flamingo by Cheryl Crowley

Flamingo, African Lesser

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Description

The smallest flamingo, the Lesser is about 80-90 cm (about 33 inches) tall, wingspan is 95-100 cm (about 37 inches) and weighs 1500-2000 gm (about 4 pounds).  Females are slightly smaller than males. Their bills are long and very dark.  The juveniles are grey-brown, with a browner head and neck than juvenile Greater Flamingos.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Phoenicopteriformes
Family
Phoenicopteridae
Genus
Phoeniconaias
Species
P. minor
Conservation Status
Near Threatened

Key Facts

Height
80-90 cm (about 33 inches)
Weight
1500-2000 gm (about 4 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Phoeniconaias minor as Near Threatened. While the total population is unknown, it is undergoing a moderately rapid decline. Lesser flamingos are heavily dependent on a few alkaline lakes for breeding (most notably Lake Natron) and proposed industrial installations at those locations puts the species at increased risk.

Social Life

Habitat and Range
Most of the population of lesser flamingos can be found in the Rift Valley of East Africa, with 3 other populations in Namibia/Botswana, Mauritania/Senegal and Northwest India/Pakistan. Lesser Flamingos live near inland saline or alkaline lakes and coastal lagoons. They prefer the water to be more alkaline than Greater Flamingos, due to their specialized diet. When they migrate, they fly at night.  They move in great numbers to other lakes after some months in the same lake, in response to adverse conditions.

Diet
The Lesser Flamingo diet is highly specialized. They are almost entirely dependent on microscopic blue-green algae, and smaller invertebrates, when the algae bloom is less dense. They usually feed near the surface of calm water, with the bill only partially submerged. They rarely feed on the bottom as do the Greater Flamingos, and so do not compete with them for food.

Lifespan
Can live up to 50 years of age in the wild.

Predators
Not a heavily preyed upon species, as they live in remote and inhospitable places. Occasional predators include several species of eagle and vulture, as well as jackals, honey badgers, and striped hyenas.

Reproduction
Lesser flamingos are colony breeders. These colonies can consist of many thousands of pairs. Like the Greater Flamingo they construct conical nests out of mud.
Sexual Maturity: About 4-6 years.
Mating Season: Breeding habits are very irregular; they do not breed every year.  They mainly breed in the dry season.
Incubation: 28 days.
No. of Young: Usually one; rarely two. Chicks fledge at about 70-75 days.

Information

Description

The smallest flamingo, the Lesser is about 80-90 cm (about 33 inches) tall, wingspan is 95-100 cm (about 37 inches) and weighs 1500-2000 gm (about 4 pounds).  Females are slightly smaller than males. Their bills are long and very dark.  The juveniles are grey-brown, with a browner head and neck than juvenile Greater Flamingos.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Phoenicopteriformes
Family
Phoenicopteridae
Genus
Phoeniconaias
Species
P. minor
Conservation Status
Near Threatened

Key Facts

Height
80-90 cm (about 33 inches)
Weight
1500-2000 gm (about 4 pounds)

The IUCN Red List classifies Phoeniconaias minor as Near Threatened. While the total population is unknown, it is undergoing a moderately rapid decline. Lesser flamingos are heavily dependent on a few alkaline lakes for breeding (most notably Lake Natron) and proposed industrial installations at those locations puts the species at increased risk.

Social Life

Habitat and Range
Most of the population of lesser flamingos can be found in the Rift Valley of East Africa, with 3 other populations in Namibia/Botswana, Mauritania/Senegal and Northwest India/Pakistan. Lesser Flamingos live near inland saline or alkaline lakes and coastal lagoons. They prefer the water to be more alkaline than Greater Flamingos, due to their specialized diet. When they migrate, they fly at night.  They move in great numbers to other lakes after some months in the same lake, in response to adverse conditions.

Diet
The Lesser Flamingo diet is highly specialized. They are almost entirely dependent on microscopic blue-green algae, and smaller invertebrates, when the algae bloom is less dense. They usually feed near the surface of calm water, with the bill only partially submerged. They rarely feed on the bottom as do the Greater Flamingos, and so do not compete with them for food.

Lifespan
Can live up to 50 years of age in the wild.

Predators
Not a heavily preyed upon species, as they live in remote and inhospitable places. Occasional predators include several species of eagle and vulture, as well as jackals, honey badgers, and striped hyenas.

Reproduction
Lesser flamingos are colony breeders. These colonies can consist of many thousands of pairs. Like the Greater Flamingo they construct conical nests out of mud.
Sexual Maturity: About 4-6 years.
Mating Season: Breeding habits are very irregular; they do not breed every year.  They mainly breed in the dry season.
Incubation: 28 days.
No. of Young: Usually one; rarely two. Chicks fledge at about 70-75 days.