Did you know there are tens of thousands if not millions of Flamingos in Kenya? Although, most flamingos in Kenya were laid and hatched in Lake Natron, Tanzania, they spend most of their adult life in one of the few soda lakes in Kenya!
There are two species of Flamingos in Kenya, although there are five species in the world. The two species are the Greater and Lesser flamingos.
The Greater flamingos are bigger and taller and their beaks are light pink with a black tip. The Lesser flamingos have a deeper pink color on their feathers and their beaks are a deep red with a black tip.
Greater flamingos feed on organisms, like crustaceans, found in the mud. Lesser flamingos thrive on algae that floats on the top of the soda lakes. Both flamingos are thought to acquire their pink color from what they eat.
Hundreds of thousands of both species of flamingos live in the alkaline lakes of Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Lake Magadi, Lake Turkana, and Lake Elementaita.
Both flamingo species are highly intelligent. They live in small flocks of ten individual birds up to over ten thousand birds. Flamingos are often seen standing on one leg and although scientists aren’t sure, they think this behavior helps keep their legs and bodies warm. Flamingos fly at night to avoid being spotted and eaten by predators like eagles. They fly in groups and form irregular shapes to keep from being eaten by predators.
Flamingos are similar to penguins because they have one mating partner for life. They only lay one egg about every 3 years. They build their nests mainly out of mud. Their eggs take between 21 and 38 days to hatch with either parent keeping it warm like penguins. Penguins that are not breeding that season will often stay behind while the rest of their flock flies to the breeding grounds at Lake Natron. When the babies are born they are spotless white and have straight beaks that curve as they get older. The chicks are feed milk for the first few months that is made from both parents or from other members of their colony. The chicks are often eaten by storks, eagles, and frogs.
Flamingos have a life span of between 20 and 40 years in the wild. However, those in captivity have been seen to live up to 60 years!
Recently Flamingos in Kenya face challenges. Heavier rainy seasons dilute the alkalinity of the water and industrial activities pollute the water. Both these things reduce the amount of algae in the water which is their made source of food.
Join us in a Flamingo Flocking fundraiser and send a little fun with these birds to a friend’s house!