Scientifically referred to as Phoeniconaias minor, the lesser flamingo is among the unique bird species explored by birders on Safari in Uganda. Noted to be species of flamingo thriving in the sub Saharan Africa and some parts of India, the lesser flamingo are the only species in the Phoeniconaias genus.
The Lesser Flamingos are recorded as the smallest of all the flamingo species though by most standards, it is a large and tall bird as viewed on birding safaris in Uganda. Its weight stretch from 1.2 to 2.7kg while the height is between 80 – 90cm. The body length from the beak to the tail is 90 – 105cm which is similar to that of the wingspan.
The plumage of the lesser flamingo is pinkish white. The Lesser flamingos majorly feed on algae that occur in alkaline lakes and Spirulina. Thus, the presence of flamingos at a given water body indicates that the water is alkaline which can be evidenced at Lake Munyanyange in the Uganda Safari tour destination of Queen Elizabeth National Park.
It can be noted that though the Algae appears blue-green in colour, it contains the photosynthetic pigments that generate the pink colour among birds. This bird species also feeds on shrimp.
Regarding breeding, the lesser flamingos build the mud nest stretching to 30cm to prevent flooding and ensuring cool temperature. Each bird lays a single chalk colored egg which is incubated by both parents in shifts of 24 hours for a period of twenty eight (28) days. Following the hatching, the chick which is grey in color consumes its shell after which it is fed on a liquid soup by the parents for some few months. The chicks soon join the crèches that can even number to thousands.
Regarding conservation, the lesser flamingos though they appear to be the abundant, their declining populations and loss of breeding sites puts them at risk. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as near-threatened on its red list. Birders on a Uganda tour can explore the lesser flamingos in the Katwe Explosion crater in Queen Elizabeth National Park to the west of the country. The park is also home to the classic wild game including the tree climbing lions of Ishasha along with 606 species of birds.