African flamingo news

This video says about itself:

Sep 29, 2011

Flamingos, Cape Buffalo, Marabou Storks, Ibis and Pelicans around the shore of Lake Nakuru, a moderately alkaline lake in the Rift Valley, Kenya East Africa.

From Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam):

Tanzania: Report a Bird, Dead or Alive, With a Ring On Its Foot

By Anne Outerwater, 23 June 2013

Flamingos are mostly confined to brackish and soda lakes of the East African Rift Valley. Sometimes Greater Flamingos come to the coast and can often be seen from the Selander Bridge in Dar es Salaam.

But according to Zimmerman, Turner, and Pearson’s “Birds of Kenya and northern Tanzania” conditions suitable for breeding are found only in a few places.

Lesser Flamingos breed almost exclusively at Lake Natron in Tanzania and occasionally at Lakes Magadi and Logipi in Kenya. Greater Flamingos are not even mentioned as breeding at Lake Magadi but are found breeding in Lakes Elmenteita and Natron.

Lake Magadi in Kenya is a harsh environment. It is an alkaline lake 80% covered by soda. Water temperatures often rise above 45C and only one species of fish can live there, a cichlid. In 1962 no living person could be found who remembered seeing flamingoes breeding at Lake Magadi for at least the previous 50 years.

In the history of the Magadi Soda Company nobody had seen flamingos breeding there. Suddenly in July 1962 millions of flamingos showed up. They built platform nests rising out of shallow alkaline water with dry chips of crystalline soda. By early September 90% of the eggs had hatched, about 850,000 chicks.

The newly hatched chicks were covered with silky grey down, had swollen red legs, a short straight red beak and beady black eyes. If they fell off the nest mound during the first day it was difficult for them to climb back up because their legs were not strong enough.

The parents would then brood the chick on the flats. By the second day their legs had strengthened and they could usually climb back up to the nest to comparative safety. About a week after they hatched the young started to gather in groups which stayed under the shade provided by standing adults.

As time passed the young gathered into larger and larger groups watched over by fewer and fewer adults. After two weeks, several thousands of still downy chicks were under the supervision of about a dozen adults. At this point the greatest danger for them became apparent.

The alkaline water was supersaturated. As the chicks walked through it, the soda adhered to their legs and dried. After a few days about 100,000 of the chicks were carrying balls of soda the size of oranges on their legs. About half of them died.

Another 27,000 were saved from that fate when a small group of people from the East African Natural History Society saw the problem and took action by rescuing the chicks – catching them, tapping away the hard casement from around their ankles, and releasing them.

Official bird rings were placed on the legs of about 8000 Lesser Flamingos and 80 Greater Flamingoes – representing the overall ratio of breeding birds (10:1). For three months the parents brought the chicks food that they collected at night from Lake Natron.

It was estimated that 350,000-400,000 chicks finally flew away. By December they were gone from Lake Magadi. Very few of the rings have been recovered. A few rings from first year birds were found in Emgagai Crater Lake and Lake Magadi.

Ringed young were seen at Lake Magadi in the Ngorongoro Crater and another at Lake Nakuru. Then in July 1963 a ring was sent in from Sodere in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia, one thousand miles away. In 1997 a ringed Flamingo was recovered dead on the edge of the Western Sahara.

And five years ago a ring was recovered from Magadi which made the bird about 45 years old. Last week news came in to the Tanzania Bird Atlas from The Ringing Scheme of East Africa (run by East African Natural History Society) that a Lesser Flamingo was found freshly dead at Lake Baringo on 13th February this year. It was wearing a ring.

As reported, “The incredible thing about it is, that the ring was a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring, one of those rings used for the Flamingo chicks which were born at Lake Magadi in 1962!! This bird was in fact ringed by Leslie Brown on 1st November 1962” – meaning the bird had lived more than 50 years and 4 months.

The person who found the flamingo and reported the band is Nick Armour of Swavesey, England. Note: If anybody ever finds a dead bird with a ring on its leg contact the Tanzanian Bird Atlas or The Ringing Scheme of East Africa in Kenya.

9 thoughts on “African flamingo news

    • The Audubon Society writes about this at

      “Are there Flamingos in Florida (other than the plastic kind)?

      At the time of the arrival of Europeans to Florida, there was a small breeding population of Flamingos in extreme southern Florida– this would have been the northernmost extent of their Caribbean range. Since that time, their range has diminished and flamingos no longer breed in Florida. Occasional sightings of flamingos in the southern reaches of Everglades National Park are thought to be birds that are vagrants from the Yucatan population. Flamingos seen elsewhere in the state are likely escaped birds from captive wildfowl collections. If you see a bright pink bird in Florida, it’s more likely to be our native Roseate Spoonbill than a Flamingo. To tell the difference: look for the Spoonbill’s spatula-shaped bill!”


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