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Lesser flamingos : are the smallest of all flamingos, but has the largest number of population. It is among the unique bird species explored by birders on safari in Uganda. These birds are Palearctic migrants arriving in October and departing in April. Thousands of these birds roost at the lake because it’s safe for them as at one stage of the year it turns muddy and that makes it difficult for wild animals to wade through the mud and prey on them.

Appearance

It has rich pink plumage, with a long neck, yellow eyes and long pink legs. In flight the crimson red and black narrow wings that are highly conspicuous; these are occasionally visible when the bird is on the ground. The bill is maroon with a black tip.

Diet

The Lesser, James and Andean flamingos have deep-keeled bills and mostly eat blue green algae and diatoms but occasionally they can eat crustaceans and small insects. While Greater, Caribbean, and Chilean flamingos have shallow-keeled bills and feed on insects, aquatic invertebrates and small fishes. Caribbean flamingos eat larval and pupal forms of flies and brine shrimp as their main food.

Breeding

Lesser flamingo individuals do not breed annually but each individual breed every 5 to 8 years. Their breeding time typically take place between October and February. Lesser flamingos typically lay one egg per clutch but occasionally two eggs are produced. In Africa where they are most numerous, the lesser flamingos breed principally on the highly caustic Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. They live up to 50 years in the wild!

Habitat

Lesser flamingos inhabit coastal and inland wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa and India. They breed on large alkaline and saline lakes, salt pans and coastal lagoon. These graceful birds prefer saltwater habitats including saline or alkaline lakes, estuaries, coastal lagoons & mudflats. Although they drink fresh water and are great swimmers they don’t often congregate in it.

Behavior

Flamingos spend most of the day feeding, preening (distributing oil from a gland at the base of their tail to their feathers for waterproofing), resting, and bathing. Non-breeding birds feed at night and spend the day sleeping or involved in activities such as preening and bathing. However, in 1993 lesser flamingos are found to display aggressive behavior during courtship and mating. This behavior occurs during the lesser flamingos’ ritual bickering behavior breeding display whereby even aggressive behavior is shown from the larger chicks pecking the smaller chicks.

Where to find them

In Uganda, the lesser flamingos are found in Queen Elizabeth National park at Lake Munyanyange in Katwe area. Lake Munyanyange attracts birds that migrate from as far as Kenya and Canada among other countries. The lake attracts birds such as; Lesser Flamingos, the White Browed Robbin Chats, Black Headed Gonoleks, Long Tailed Starlings, African Hoopoes, Winding, Zitting, and Desert Cisticolas.

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