Phoeniconaias minorlesser flamingo

Geographic Range

Lesser flamingos, Phoeniconaias minor, are predominantly found in the southern region of Africa reaching as far south as South Africa. They can also be found as far north as Yemen and as far west as Senegal and the coast of Guinea. Some disjunct populations have been located in the coastal regions of Madagascar. There are also inland populations like those in the western region of Chad. Some populations of lesser flamingos have been found in the northwest region of India and along the southern border separating Pakistan and India.

The breeding populations of lesser flamingos are found in small, isolated regions within the range described above. These breeding areas include the African countries of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal, and Mauritania as well as the Asian countries of Pakistan and India. (Childress, et al., 2009; Simmons, 2000; Tuite, 2000)


Lesser flamingos inhabit many large alkaline or saline lakes, salt pans and estuaries throughout Africa. The alkaline or saline lakes contain high levels of sodium and potassium salts as well as the presence of calcium and magnesium ions. Based on a study done by Vareschi (1978), lesser flamingos are commonly found at four alkaline lakes, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elmenteita, Lake Bogoria, and Lake Natron in Kenya. Lesser flamingos are frequently located in the shallow areas of the lakes and mudflats. They are very responsive to changes in their environment such as any fluctuations in physical or chemical variables. These variables can include changes in the conductivity of the water. Conductivity is measured by the concentration of salts and ions in the water. The amount of rainfall influences conductivity. When there is an increase in rainfall, the lake levels rise which leads to a rise in conductivity. Changes in food quantity also influences the movement of the lesser flamingos. Vareschi (1978) found that flamingo movements are triggered by the concentration of algae. As a result of these changes, lesser flamingos can travel up to 450km a day to find a suitable living environment.

The nesting habitats of lesser flamingos includes areas in very shallow water so they can construct their nests out of the wet mud found in the area. The water typically measures less than one meter deep. Their regular breeding sites are located on the soda mudflats of Lake Natron in Tanzania and the pink crystalline soda palates. (Brown and Root, 1971; Kaggwa, et al., 2012; Kumssa and Bekele, 2014; Pomeroy, et al., 2003; Scott, et al., 2012; Tuite, 2000; Vareschi, 1978)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

Physical Description

Lesser flamingos are identifiable by their long, curved necks and thin, pink legs. The S-shaped curves of their necks are a result of the birds laying their heads along their backs when they rest. This forces their necks to curve towards their center of gravity. They stand between 90 to 125 cm tall making them the smallest species of the family Phoenicopteridae. Their fully webbed feet contain a three-clawed digit impression and measure ca. 11 cm in width and 9 cm in length. Their plumage ranges from pale pink to red with black primary and secondary wing feathers. Their wingspan ranges from 1.0-1.1 m long. Their bills are a unique shape which is specialized for their diet. They contain over 10,000 minute platelets that filter planktonic organisms from the water. The water gets pressed through the bill by the tongue. Their bills are a deep keeled, angular shape with their upper mandible visible only at the tip and above the bend. Lesser flamingo bills are a dark red color which appears black when seen at a distance. Their eyes are a golden color with a purple eye-ring. On average, adult males measure significantly larger than females. Adult males have an average mass of 1,798 g, wing length of 346.5 mm, tarsus length of 242.8 mm, culmen length of 102.2 mm, and a skull length, including the bill, of 135.5 mm. Adult females have an average mass of 1,529 g, wing length of 322.5 mm, tarsus length of 213.4 mm, culmen length of 94.10 mm and a skull length of 124.5 mm.

Lesser flamingos are born with a natal down that is grey in color and paler on the underside. This natal down eventually gets replaced by a down that is coarser and brownish in color on the 14th or 15th day after hatching. Shortly after hatching, they develop a long, curved red bill with a black tip. Their feet are coral red and swollen and their eyes are black. Juvenile males are generally larger than juvenile females. At hatching, juvenile males have an average mass of 1,327 g, wing length of 327.4 mm, a tarsus length of 255.4 mm, culmen length of 102.3 mm and a skull length, including the bill, of 136.3 mm. The average measurements for the smaller juvenile females include a mass of 1,138 g, wing length of 308.2 mm, tarsus length of 188.8 mm, culmen length of 91.60 mm and a skull length of 121.4 mm. (Brown and Root, 1971; Childress, et al., 2005; Hughes, et al., 2009; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Kumssa and Bekele, 2014; Robinson, 2015; Scott, et al., 2012; Sinclair, et al., 2011; Sinclair, et al., 1993; Tuite, 2000; Vareschi, 1978)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    1,529 to 1,798 g
    to oz
  • Range length
    90 to 125 cm
    35.43 to 49.21 in
  • Range wingspan
    1.0 to 1.1 m
    3.28 to 3.61 ft


In order for lesser flamingos to attract breeding partners, males initiate and perform ritualized group displays. These displays can occur year-round but their frequency increases during the breeding season. Flamingos typically form large groups of 500-1,000 birds. The move together in tightly-packed flocks on the ground.

Breeding group displays usually start with several small-scale head and neck movements. In head and neck hooking movements, flamingos walk forward in an erect position with their bills lowered to their upper necks in hook-like postures. Head-wagging movements are commonly displayed by fast-moving flamingos. They perform this display by pointing their bills vertically upwards while jerking their heads from side to side. Another head movement performed is a simple head-bobbing which occurs when flamingos lower their bills to their upper necks and raise them again. A common neck movement performed is the broken-neck posture. Flamingos perform this display by snapping their bills to their lower necks which can make it look as if their necks were dislocated below their heads. This display is maintained for several minutes until the flamingos point their bills back to the sky. Pairs can together perform the ritual bickering movement, in which they bring their heads close together and rapidly waggle their bills against each other.

Other breeding group displays of lesser flamingos typically include red signals, in which individuals hold their tails erect and display tufts of their red tail feathers. Some individuals perform wing salutes, preening movements, or bows. Vocal roaring, which resemble the roar of surf, come from the flock while their displays are being performed. A small number of birds break away from the flock and accelerate the pace of their displays while walking towards potential mates. All of their displays, including the roaring, can be repeated for several minutes and can last as long as several weeks.

Once paired up, lesser flamingo couples move towards the flock periphery. During their copulation, males stand behind females and mount them. In mounting, males place their webbed feet over the wing bases of the females and flap their wings to maintain their balance. Females raise their tails while males depress theirs. It is common for female lesser flamingos to be polyandrous and be mounted by more than one male in a single breeding season. After copulation, males dismount over the females’ heads and run around behind them. While copulation is occurring, females continue their feeding. (Brown and Root, 1971; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Stevens, 1991)

Lesser flamingo individuals do not breed annually. Individuals breed every 5 to 8 years. They typically breed between October and February. Lesser flamingos typically lay one egg per clutch, but occasionally two eggs are produced. Eggs of lesser flamingos are elongated, oval, and a pale blue with a thick chalky outer layer. The yolks of the eggs are blood red. Their incubation period lasts 28 to 31 days. Lesser flamingos weigh an average of 50 grams when they hatch. About three weeks after hatching, the chicks start to form their own smaller flocks known as creches. On average, chicks typically fledge 75 (range 70 to 90) days after hatching and become fully independent around 90 days after hatching. Both male and female lesser flamingos become sexually mature around 3 to 4 years of age. Lesser flamingos are colonial breeders and members of the colonies synchronize their breeding and hatching. This behavior increases the survival of their young.

Brown and Root (1971) found that the success rate of lesser flamingos is between 41 to 43%, as defined by reaching independence from the parents. Mortality of young chicks typically occurs during the first three weeks post-hatching. One factor that can reduce this success rate is predation. Accounting for just 5% of young mortality, chicks are preyed upon by vultures, such as the Egyptian vulture Neophron percnopterus. Other factors that reduce the lesser flamingos’ success rates include desertion of newly-hatched eggs, losses of young in the water and mud, and the formation of soda anklets on the legs of chicks. Young flamingos can develop these anklets when they relocate to areas of salt-saturated water containing crystalline surface films. Young flamingos collect rings as they continually walk through the water. After three to five days, they develop an apple-sized ball of hard crystalline soda around their tarsus. When the ball of crystalline soda becomes heavy enough, it drags the bird down into the mud and water and they can drown.

Lesser flamingos construct their nests in shallow water with wet soupy mud. They are a conical shape with a flattened top. Their nest mounds typically stand at around 15 to 20 cm above the water, 20 cm wide at the top and 30 cm wide at the base. They are made up of three components. The first is a compacted, oval-shaped core that contains coarse material. The second is a body, made up of fine-grained sediments that are horizontally-bedded with a flattened top. The third is an exterior layer, sometimes slightly separated from the rest of the mound. These mounds usually sit on a flat, terrace-like remnant of the sediment from which they were constructed. They are typically built within 1-2 meters of one another and are arranged in groups known as clumps or in lines known as strings. The mounds are typically refurbished by the flamingos, applying fresh mud to rebuild them and increase their height. ("International single species action plan for the conservation of the lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor", 2007; Brown and Root, 1971; Burch and Gailband, 2000; McCulloch and Irvine, 2009; Robinson, 2015; Scott, et al., 2012; Simmons, 1996)

  • Breeding interval
    every 5-8 years
  • Breeding season
    October to February
  • Range eggs per season
    2 (high)
  • Average eggs per season
  • Range time to hatching
    28 to 31 days
  • Range fledging age
    70 to 90 days
  • Average fledging age
    75 days
  • Average time to independence
    90 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 to 4 years

Lesser flamingos are protective of their nests while eggs are incubating. When pairs are approached by unfamiliar flamingos, they threaten the intruder by erecting their feathers and stretching their heads and necks. They produce grunting calls while performing this display. Both parents take turns incubating so each partner can search for food. Newly-hatched flamingos are brooded by both parents. While eggs are hatching, the parent sitting on the nest repeatedly stands up and lowers their bill to the egg or newly hatched chick and call to it. They assist the hatching of their young when they stand up and their call imprint on their chick so it will recognize its own parent. Young flamingos spend the first week of their lives in the nests with their parents. They are an altricial species, which means they require care and feeding by their parents. If they were to fall out of the nest, the adults would stand while calling to them but they will not pull them back into the nest. If the young chicks are unable to get back in their nests, the adults leave the nests and shelter their young on the mud at the base of their nests.

Lesser flamingos are known to only feed their own young. Both parents take turns feeding their chick. The young flamingos are fed by parents delivering the food into their bills while they facing the same direction. During the first week post-hatching, young flamingos are fed crop milk which is reddish milk rich in lipids, proteins, and glucose. About two weeks after hatching, young lesser flamingos begin to rest in the shade of their standing parents. During this time, the young chicks will also start moving away from the nest to begin the formation of their own flocks. The young chicks start to spend less and less time with their parents. If the young chicks were to be attacked by a predator, the adults would not protect them; instead adults would run away from them and would only return when the disturbance ceased. To find their young after a disturbance, parents emit a high-pitched quaronk call. If found, young would be lead back to their nest or some place near it. The parents would then defend their resting place by raising their feathers and lunging their bills.

By the time the young are three weeks old, they have started to form their own flocks called creches. They are now attended by only a few adults during the day. Those adults are either the parents of younger chicks or those who have lost their own chicks. The adults are present mainly to lead the chicks while they move around the breeding area in creches. Young lesser flamingos move out of their breeding areas and into the gathering areas, unaccompanied by any adults after about 90 days. Some would occasionally be accompanied by one or two adults while making treks of several kilometers over an open soda flat. At this point, they are fully independent. The young completely break off into smaller groups, capable of flying and feeding independently. When their wings are strong enough, the join the adults on the feeding grounds and will remain there. (Brown and Root, 1971; Krienitz, et al., 2016; McCulloch and Irvine, 2009)


Lesser flamingos are expected to have a maximum lifespan of 32 years in the wild and 44 years in captivity. The longest known lifespan in the wild is 80 years, while that in captivity is unknown. The average expected lifespan in the wild is 28 years. Factors that limit the lifespan of the flamingos includes disturbances by natural predators and humans Homo sapiens. (Brown and Root, 1971; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Moreno-Opo, et al., 2012; Robinson, 2015)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    80 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    32 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    28 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    44 (high) years


Lesser flamingos are social animals that live in large flocks. Social information such the status of predators and food sources are shared within the flock. Each flock member has a lower risk of predation due to there being numerous vigilant individuals scanning for threats. If an individual member sense nearby danger, it performs an alert posing display. This display starts in the individual who sensed the danger and is eventually mimicked by others in the flock. The display involved the flamingos stretching their necks until they are in straight, vertical positions. If there is danger nearby, the flock takes flight immediately and returns after several minutes when it is safer. Information about food is shared through the flock from foragers. Foragers are members of the flock that go out and search for food. They share information about the location and sometimes the quality of the food source to the rest of the flock. Flocks of lesser flamingos have been known to act aggressively towards other flocks. Bildstein et al. (1993) found that most flamingos display aggressive behavior during courtship and mating. This behavior occurs during the lesser flamingos’ ritual bickering behavior breeding display. There is even aggressive behavior shown from the larger chicks pecking the smaller chicks. Their pecking squabbles occur frequently and occasionally get to the point of drawing blood. Flamingos also show aggressive behavior if they or their nests are threatened. They respond to the threat with raised feathers and their head and neck hooked and swaying from side to side. If the perceived threat moves closer, they launch at it with their bills open.

Lesser flamingos are colonial breeders that perform large group displays. Males initiate these displays to attract potential female breeding partners. The group of males typically move together as a flock but some tend to break up into smaller groups. They perform a variety of displays such as their head-wagging, head-bobbing, broken-neck posture, and ritual bickering display. Some also perform wing salutes, preening movements, and bows. These displays can last for days or weeks. Copulation occurs when males mount females from behind. They place their webbed feed on the wing base of the females and flap their wings to maintain their balance.

Lesser flamingos are most active at dusk and dawn, spending most of that time feeding. They feed the longest during the wet season, when diatoms are plentiful. They feed during this time to avoid predation and to meet their overnight energy requirements. Lesser flamingos are filter feeders, filtering planktonic organisms from the water with their specialized bills. (Bildstein, et al., 1993; Brown and Root, 1971; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Kumssa and Bekele, 2014; Robinson, 2015; Simmons, 1996; Vareschi, 1978)

Home Range

No home range has been reported for lesser flamingos, as they are a nomadic species that can travel distances as far as 450 km per day. They move from one lake to another based on food availability. They search for lakes that contain the highest concentration of food such as cyanobacterium Arthrospira fusiformis which is one of their main sources of food. They also move from their feeding locations to appropriate breeding locations. Simmons (1996) found that flamingos tend to migrate towards breeding areas with an average rainfall between 440-600 mm. (Krienitz, et al., 2016; Simmons, 1996; Vareschi, 1978)

Communication and Perception

Lesser flamingos are social animals that are typically found in large flocks. They use group displays to communicate information such as the locations of predators and food. Living in large flocks reduces the risk of predation. This is a result of the many eyes effect. The flock has a better chance of detecting approaching predators because numerous birds are scanning for threats. An alert posing display is performed if one member of the flock senses danger. That member stretches its neck until it is in a straight vertical position. When the other members of the flock see this, they will then mimic it in seconds. This also allows each member to lower their energy investment in predator detection without increasing their risk of being attacked. The members who are more vigilant are located on the periphery while those in the center of the flock dedicate more energy on efficient foraging. Information about food and resource is not always passed uniformly. Resource information is passed passively as a result of the foragers drawing the receivers to the exploited food source areas without giving them information about the quality of the source. Actively passed resource information is considered public information which includes specialized information about the quality of the food.

Lesser flamingos are colonial breeders and perform ritualized group displays before breeding to attract a potential mate. Those displays are initiated by the male. Male flamingos will join together to form flocks while swinging their heads from side to side. This is known as head flagging. They make continuous goose-like honking calls to attract nearby females. The males then perform wing salutations and inverted wing salutations which are dances that are performed while their heads are now in a crook-like posture. This neck posture is their broken neck display. Their feathers are partly erected while they are dancing. Their courtship displays can last for hours and can be repeated at the same site for days or even months. The frequency of the displays typically increases during the breeding season.

The uropygial glad of birds, located near the base of the tail, secretes oily substances that function in olfactory communication in groups of birds. The uropygial gland also produces odors that are involved in mating behaviors. The birds’ olfactory ability can be determined by measuring their olfactory bulb. Colonia species typically have a larger uropygial gland than solitary species. The relative size of the olfactory bulb was estimated by the regression of the diameter of the olfactory bulb against the cerebral hemisphere. The species’ body mass, size of tufts and tendency to breed in colonies were also collected. Galvan and Moller (2013) found that the olfactory ability of lesser flamingos was greater compared to another colonial breeding species of a similar body mass, such as osprey Pandion haliaetus. (Krienitz, et al., 2016; Pickering and Duverge, 1991; Robinson, 2015; Sinclair, et al., 2011; Sinclair, et al., 1993; Stevens, 1991)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • mimicry

Food Habits

Lesser flamingos are dietary specialists. Their main source of food is the microscopic alkaliphilic cyanobacteria voronichin Arthrospira fusiformis that has a high percentage of protein in its dry mass and also contains high levels of lipids and carbohydrates. Lesser flamingos consume about 72 grams of cyanobacteria a day. Their diet also includes algae like Synechocystis minuscula, Monoraphidium minutum, Synechococcus pevalekii and Synechococcus elongatus. Lesser flamingos also feed on the copepod Lovenula africana and benthic diatoms. They also consume the planktonic species Arthrospira maxima. Lesser flamingos feed mostly in shallow lake areas, shorelines and mudflats of lakes. The variation in nutritional quality of these foraged organisms is a key factor that contributes to the daily migration of the birds.

Lesser flamingos are filter-feeders, feeding with their head inverted and their bill floating on the surface of the water. The surface water then pumps into their mouth and goes through a fine filter in their bill. That filter then retains what they are consuming. On average, Kumssa and Bekele (2014) found that lesser flamingos spend 68.35% of their day feeding. Lesser flamingos feed during the day and night but are more active during the night. Winds that occur in the late afternoon creates strong wave actions that interrupt their feeding. Diatoms are more plentiful in the mudflat habitats during the wet season. While they are located in the mudflat habitats, lesser flamingos spend more time feeding during the wet season than the dry season. Lesser flamingos drink mostly fresh water. The availability of fresh water also influences their migration habits. When the water source becomes limited, they line up in a single file line to drink. (Kaggwa, et al., 2012; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Kumssa and Bekele, 2014; Martin, et al., 2005; Robinson, 2015; Scott, et al., 2012; Tuite, 2000; Vareschi, 1978)

  • Other Foods
  • microbes


Lesser flamingos are preyed upon by a variety of carnivorous birds and mammals. Birds of prey such as fish eagles Haliaeetus vocifer, tawny eagles Aquila rapax, and steppe eagles Aquila nipalensis are known to consume flamingos that are located on the lakeshores. This is a result of the eagles’ nests being built in the trees in the vicinity of the lakes. These birds typically prey on the adult lesser flamingos. Vultures such as Egyptian vultures Neophron percnopterus, lappet-faced vultures Torgos reacheliotus, and white-headed vultures Trigonoceps occipitalis typically prey on the eggs and young in the breeding colonies. Golden jackals Canis aureus, pale foxes Vulpes pallida, honey badgers Mellivora capensis, side-striped jackals Canis adustus, and striped hyenas Hyaena hyaena occasionally prey upon lesser flamingos.

Lesser flamingos decrease their risk of predation by living in large flocks. Group living give them a greater likelihood of fast, efficient predator detection. This is due to the numerous vigilant individuals that are scanning for threats. Predator swamping is an example of a behavioral strategy where group members synchronize their flight responses to warn the other members of any nearby threats. An individual member of the flock can give a warning sign called an alert pose: stretching its neck from the S-shaped positon to a straight vertical line. This pose is mimicked in seconds by the other birds. If there is nearby danger, the flock will take flight immediately and then return after several minutes. When lesser flamingos are approached by predators, they treat it as a territorial threat and perform a threat display. They lunge at the approaching predator with open bills, raised feathers, and their heads and necks in a hooked position, moving from side to side. This display is usually effective on smaller carnivorous birds. Larger carnivorous birds instead force lesser flamingos to abandon their nests. (Brown and Root, 1971; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Moreno-Opo, et al., 2012; Nasirwa, 2000; Robinson, 2015)

Ecosystem Roles

Lesser flamingos are often the hosts to internal parasites. Theses parasites include intestinal cestodes (Amabilia lamelligera, Cladogynia latovarium, Sobolevicanthus gracilis, Alcataenia campylacantha, Parorchites zederi, Rauschitaenia ancora, and Phoenicolepis nakurensis). They are also hosts to trematodes (Chaunocephalus ferox and Braunia cordiformis) and nematodes (Striatofilaria phoenicopteri and Filaria phoenicopteri). (Jones, 1980; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Poynton, et al., 2000)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • cestodes (Amabilia lamelligera)
  • cestodes (Cladogynia latovarium)
  • cestodes (Sobolevicanthus gracilis)
  • cestodes (Alcataenia campylacantha)
  • cestodes (Parorchites zederi)
  • cestodes (Rauschitaenia ancora)
  • cestodes (Phoenicolepis nakurensis)
  • trematodes (Chaunocephalus ferox)
  • trematodes (Braunia cordiformis)
  • nematodes (Striatofilaria phoenicopteri)
  • nematodes (Filaria phoenicopteri)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Lesser flamingos are typically found in nature-based tourism attractions and zoos. As a result of their popularity, they play a role in the socio-economy of African countries like Kenya, Nambia, and Tanzania. They are typically ranked as one of the most visited tourist attractions. Over one million lesser flamingos are viewed from the roads within parks like Lake Nakuru National Park and Lake Bogoria in Kenya. In Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria, ecotourism is centered on flamingos. These types of tourist attractions benefit both humans and the flamingos by generating revenue and rising awareness. Arengo and Galicia (2017) found in Lake Nakuru National Park, the annual recreational value of wildlife viewing ranged from 7.5-15 million USD. National Parks like Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria raise conservation awareness by promoting the protection of the environment.

Lesser flamingos are often found in zoos across the world. King (2000) found that almost 7,000 flamingos across 228 zoos were reported in a 1994 survey. They can be found in places like SeaWorld in California, USA, the San Antonio Zoo, USA, National Zoo in Washington D.C, USA and Paris Zoo. Zoos provide research opportunities that would be difficult to carry out in the wild. Research on flamingo communication commonly stems from captive studies. The function of ritualized behaviors, aggression and dominance behaviors and vocalizations are the areas that are commonly being researched in zoos. The ability to observe these behaviors at close range allows researchers to observe and assess behaviors that normally could not be observed in the wild. (Arengo and Galicia, 2017; Burch and Gailband, 2000; King, 2000; Krienitz, et al., 2016; Tuite, 2000)

  • Positive Impacts
  • ecotourism
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of lesser flamingos on humans.

Conservation Status

Lesser flamingos are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are also listed in Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). CITES regulates the trade of lesser flamingo specimens. The exports cannot be detrimental to the survival of the species and they cannot be obtained in contravention of the State for the protection of flora and fauna laws. They also have to be prepared and shipped in a way that minimizes the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment. Lesser flamingos have no special statuses on the US Migratory Bird Act, US Federal List and the State of Michigan List.

One of the threats to the lesser flamingos include predation risk. They are mainly preyed upon by carnivorous mammals and birds. Humans Homo sapiens can contribute to the degradation of the flamingos' habitats through deforestation, farming, drainage, pollution, and industry. This is leading to a decrease in their overall population. Most of these threats are in the vicinity of their primary breeding site, Lake Natron. Lake Natron is also affected by soda-ash mining and hydroelectric power schemes. Humans also pose a risk through hunting, wild bird trade and egg collection. Malnutrition is a concern for the Lake Bogoria population in Kenya due to the fluctuation of food quality and quantity resulting from pollution.

Appropriate management of key sites, such as Lake Nakuru, and increasing public awareness are necessary for the further conservation of lesser flamingos. The long-term goal of the conservation plan for the lesser flamingos is to upgrade them from a “Near Threatened” species to a “Least Concern” species. The short and medium-term goals are to maintain the species’ current population and range and to promote the increase of their population size and range. Other conservation efforts can include the prevention of hunting, deterrence of predators and the reduction of collisions with power lines in their natural habitats. ("International single species action plan for the conservation of the lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor", 2007; BirdLife International, 2016)


Layne DiBuono (author), Radford University, Alex Atwood (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Joshua Turner (editor), Radford University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an area where a freshwater river meets the ocean and tidal influences result in fluctuations in salinity.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


a method of feeding where small food particles are filtered from the surrounding water by various mechanisms. Used mainly by aquatic invertebrates, especially plankton, but also by baleen whales.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


photosynthetic or plant constituent of plankton; mainly unicellular algae. (Compare to zooplankton.)


an animal that mainly eats plankton


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


animal constituent of plankton; mainly small crustaceans and fish larvae. (Compare to phytoplankton.)


Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). International single species action plan for the conservation of the lesser flamingo Phoenicopterus minor. None. Bonn, Germany: AEWA. 2007.

Anderson, M. 2009. Lateral neck-resting preferences in the lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor). Flamingo, Bulletin of the IUCNSSC/Wetlands International Flamingo Specialist Group, 17: 37-39.

Arengo, F., E. Galicia. 2017. Flamingos and ecotourism. Pp. 227-241 in M Anderson, ed. Flamingos Behavior, Biology, and Relationship with Humans. New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

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