Well, it might be a bit of a stretch to call the flamingos Kenyan considering they were laid and hatched in Tanzania’s Lake Natron. However, they spend most of their adult life in one of the few soda lakes in Kenya, so maybe dual citizenship? Kenya’s Flamingos are one of the most tremendous birds and wildlife in Kenya. They draw tourists and nature lovers from all over the world yearly for their beauty and way of life. Below are some fascinating facts about these gorgeous birds.
There are two species of Flamingos in Kenya although there are five worldwide. The two species are the greater and lesser flamingos respectively. There are distinct differences between these two species including their physical appearance. The greater flamingo, true to their name, are bigger and taller in size. The lesser flamingos, however, have a deeper pink colour on their feathers, while their beaks are a deep red with a black tip. The greater flamingo beaks are light pink with a black tip.
Greater flamingos feed on organisms found in the mud including crustaceans while the lesser flamingo thrives on floating algae present in the soda lake waters. Both flamingos are thought to acquire their pigmentation from their prey.
Greater and lesser flamingos in Kenya coexist. They inhabit the alkaline lakes of Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Lake Magadi, Lake Turkana, Lake Elementaita occasionally, and the lesser known Lake Logipi. They occur in their hundreds of thousands if not millions.
Behaviour and General Life
The two flamingo species are mysterious and highly intelligent birds. They live in flocks of between ten individuals to over ten thousand. Some flamingos are seen standing on one leg and although there is no definite scientific reason, it has been proposed that he behaviour helps with body warmth retention. Flamingos fly at night to avoid being spotted by predators such as eagles. They also fly in groups forming irregular shapes.
Flamingos like penguins are monogamous birds thus retain a mating partner through life. They also only lay one egg per time. Flamingos breed once in at least three years. Flamingos build their nests primarily out of mud from their surroundings, but occasionally add pebbles and grass straws. The eggs take between 21 and 38 days to hatch with either parent incubating it. Flamingos breed most in seasons of abundant food otherwise they remain abstinent. Non-breeding flamingos may remain behind when the rest of the flock flies to breeding spots. Kenyan flamingos breed in Lake Natron.
Chicks are born spotless white in both species with straight beaks that curve with time. The chicks are fed for the first 3 months by milk both parents produce from their upper digestive tracts. Other members of the colony can also feed them. Flamingos have caretakers for the chicks that when ready, leads them to the water for the first time. This journey occurs on foot. The distance from the nests to the water can be as far as 30 kilometres.
Flamingos do not have a natural predator. However, the chicks are often snatched by storks, eagles and frogs that occur in the same habitats. Flamingos in Lake Bogoria occasionally die from getting into the hot springs. Scavengers such as hyenas, crows and vultures then consume their carcasses.
Flamingos in Kenya face the challenges of increased dilution of water during rainy seasons, water pollution from industrial activities and reduced algae levels, which are the main food sources for the flamingos. The pollution of Lake Nakuru increased water levels and reduction of algae, are the main reasons for the disappearance of flamingos recently.
Flamingos have a general life span of between 20 and 40 years in the wild. However, those in captivity have been seen to live up to 60 years. Flamingos are able to start mating from 3y years but most wait until they are five before they start.