Our animal of the month

March 1, 2020

This month we are celebrating our fantastic flamboyance of flamingos! 

Greater flamingos occur over a large area, including West Africa, North Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and southern and south-western Asia. They are found in shallow bodies of water such as saline lagoons, saltpans and saline or alkaline lakes, and also estuaries and coastal waters. They nest and roost on sandbanks, mudflats, islands or boggy, open shores.

Greater flamingos usually build cone shaped nests out of mud, but if they are nesting on rocky islands, their nests may just be a small pile of stones. Flamingos usually lay one egg, but occasionally two. When chicks first hatch, they have pale grey down, which is soon replaced by a second, darker coat of down. They fledge at between 65 and 90 days old. Can you spot last year’s chicks on our flamingo webcam? They’re almost fully grown!

Flamingos feed their chicks with ‘flamingo milk’ which is produced in their crop.  This milk is similar to mammal milk but is produced by both male and female flamingos. They may only feed their chicks once every few days where their feeding area is distant from their breeding area.

Greater flamingos are not globally threatened and are seen regularly across their range. However, this species does face threats from habitat loss and disturbance, as well as being persecuted by people, for example being caught and sold in markets in Egypt. Measures have been put in place to protect breeding colonies and establish new ones.