Lesser flamingo

Phoenicopterus minor

Lesser Flamingos are filter-feeding wading birds native to Africa. They are the smallest of the six flamingo species, and the pinkest of the two old world species.

Lesser flamingo behavior and facts

  • Lesser flamingos get their pink color from pigments in bacteria called spirulina, which is their primary food.
  • Flamingos have a poor sense of taste and no sense of smell.
  • Flocking helps flamingos evade predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and jackals.
  • During courtship, lesser flamingos gather to march back and forth, all going in the same direction.
  • They stand tall with their necks stretched upwards and flap their wings to flash the colors of their feathers.
  • Adults are left flightless for around three weeks during their molt.

From birth to death

  • Lesser flamingos breed primarily in the salty Rift Valley lakes of East Africa.
  • Smaller breeding congregations also occur in West Africa, southern Africa, Asia, India and Pakistan.
  • Lesser flamingo breeding colonies may number in the thousands of pairs, and are often mixed with greater flamingos.
  • They breed on large undisturbed alkaline and saline lakes, salt pans or coastal lagoons.
  • Raised mud nests help keep flamingo eggs cool and dry.
  • Flamingo chicks are fed a liquid diet by their parents.
  • Chicks can walk a week after hatching.

Vital statistics

  • Adult lesser flamingos are on average 35.5 inches in length
  • Flamingo hatchlings typically weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 ounces
  • Adults weigh between 2.5 and 5 pounds

Status

IUCN Near threatened

Lesser flamingos, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's lesser flamingos live in the Africa Rainforest Aviary.