| Latin Name
| Conservation Status
||Up to 1 m (3.25 ft)
||Approx. 1 m (3.25 ft)
||Up to 2 Kgs (4.5 lbs)
| Life Expectancy
|| Up to 40 Yrs
The Lesser Flamingo is the smallest but most numerous species of flamingo. They grow up to 1 m (3.25 ft) in height, they have a wingspan of approximately 1 m (3.25 ft) and they weigh up to 2 kgs (4.5 lbs).
They are light to dark pink in colour but immature birds are grey before they gain their full adult plumage. They have a long neck and long pink legs with relatively small webbed feet. Unlike the Andean Flamingo and Puna Flamingo, they have a hind toe known as a "hallux".
Their large bill is downward curving and it is dark red in colour with a black tip. They have narrow wings with their primary and secondary flight feathers being black in colour and their wing coverts being red.
Lesser Flamingos are unmistakable in flight with their long, thin neck outstretched in front and their long legs outstretched behind them. Flocks fly in "V" shaped formations and they mainly move at night, although they sometimes move between lakes during the day.
They are gregarious birds and as well as calling they also flash the black feathers on their wings as a method of communication. They have no sense of smell and a poor sense of taste.
Lesser Flamingos are found in the salty lakes and lagoons of southern Africa. They are non-migratory and they live in large colonies that can contain over 1 million birds.
Lesser Flamingos feed almost entirely on blue green algae but they will also eat small insects and crustaceans. They are filter feeders and they gather food by holding their beak upside down in the water. They then use their specially adapted beak and tongue to filter food from the water.
Lesser Flamingos produce one chalky white egg that is laid on a mud mound in shallow water. Both parents incubate the egg which takes 27 - 31 days to hatch. They will defend their nest during the breeding season, otherwise they are non-territorial.
After the chick first hatches they are fed a substance called "crop milk" which comes from the parents' upper digestive tract. Either parent can feed the chick this way and other flamingos can act as foster feeders. When the chicks are old enough to walk they gather together in creches that are watched over by a few adult birds. By the time young flamingos reach 2 - 3 years of age they will have gained their full adult plumage.
Predators of adult Lesser Flamingos include lions, leopards, cheetahs, jackals and pythons. Eggs and chicks are preyed upon by marabou storks, lappet faced vultures, white headed vultures and egyptian vultures.
There are no subspecies of the Lesser Flamingo.
Some colonies of Lesser Flamingos contain over 1 million birds - these are among the largest bird aggregations in the world.
The flamingo's characteristic pink colouring is caused by the beta carotene in their diet.
Flamingo comes from the latin word for flame.