Saturday, August 16, 2014

Greater and Lesser Flamingo

There are six species of flamingo and we saw two of those species in Africa, the greater and the lesser flamingo, first in Lake Nakuru, and then in Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Crater.
Flamingos on Lake Magadi in Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. A wildebeest is in the foreground. Photo by Michael Lewin. 
The greater flamingo is the largest and most widespread flamingo. larger than the lesser flamingo and is not as colorful. The body is white or a pale pink. It has a long, S shaped neck and pale pink legs. It has red wing coverts and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is a pale pink with a black tip. It can be found along most of the coast of Africa, including North Africa, and in the Rift Valley. There are much fewer of them than lesser flamingos in East Africa.
These are mostly greater flamingos, evidenced by less black on the beak, at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Photo by Mark Edwards.
The lesser flamingo is the smallest of the flamingos and also the most plentiful.  It has a deeper pink color: breeding adults are a deep rose/red and none-breeding adults are more of a white with a pink tinge. The flight feathers are black, the shoulders are bright red and the legs are dark red. The bill is dark red with a black tip, which just looks black. The extent of black on the bill is the best way to distinguish the two species.
Most of these appear to be lesser flamingos at Lakie Nakuru. Photo by Steven Shuel.
Lake Magadi. Photo by Mark Edwards.
Lake Magadi. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
Lake Magadi. Photo by Steven Shuel.
Although it is the most numerous flamingo, it has Near Threatened status. It is found along the coast of West Africa, both the west and east coasts of South Africa and through the Rift Valley of East Africa. It is also found in a small area of Asia.
Lake Magadi. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
We were not able to get too close to the flamingos we saw. For the most part, we just saw a large pink mass out on the lakes.  


  1. The pictures with the wildebeest in the foreground are really spectacular. What a contrast between beautiful/gracerul and awkward/homely