We love flamingos


We love flamingos

The flamingo is known for its bright pink or reddish color. They get their color from food in their diet, which includes a lot of bacteria and beta carotene found in algae, plankton and shrimp.  The Lesser Flamingo feeds on Spirulina, a very nutritious algae which grow only in very alkaline lakes.

The brighter the pink of the flamingo, the healthier the bird is, although the actual color varies in each of the species of flamingo.  When flamingo babies hatch, they stay a white or grayish color for a couple years before they develop their mature red, orange or pink color.

Flamingos only breed in very large groups.  In South Africa the Lesser Flamingo only breed at Kamfers Dam in Kimberly where a generous mining company, Ekapa, built an S-shaped artificial island in the middle of the dam.  The flamingos loved this man-made breeding haven and, for the first time, the lesser flamingo had bred in South Africa. Now there is a large permanent breeding population. 

Despite being the most numerous species of flamingo, the Lesser Flamingo is classified as near-threatened due to its declining population and the low number of breeding sites. The only breeding site in South Africa, situated at Kamfers Dam, is threatened by pollution and human induced threats to the breeding sites.

The Lesser Flamingo is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


We don’t often see the Greater Flamingo at Laaiplek, but they do sometimes come for short visits.  We were very happy to learn that flamingos have quite long lifespans.  In the wild is about 30 years, but flamingos have been observed to live in captivity of 50 years of longer. The oldest flamingo in captivity is 77 years old. 

Lesser Flamingos seen at Flaminkevlei Waterfront

The Lesser Flamingo is the smallest species of flamingo, though it is a tall and largish bird by most standards. Most of the plumage is pinkish white. The clearest difference between Lesser and the Greater Flamingo, is the more extensive black on the bill of the Lesser Flamingo

Flamingos are specifically referred to as wading birds. They are closely related to another aquatic bird called the grebe. Grebes can also be found in saltwater and freshwater like flamingos. Grebes are typically diving birds, though. Flamingos also share some common characteristics with penguins. Penguins and Flamingos both travel in flocks as to ensure the safety of the entire flock and food for all.

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