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Bird of the week – Lesser flamingo

First flight takes place between 70 and 90 days.

A locally abundant and highly nomadic species throughout Southern Africa they enjoy larger brackish or saline inland and coastal waters where they are found in flocks of hundreds or thousands of birds.

They differ from the greater flamingo as usually darker pink in colour with a maroon bill. Food is mainly microscopic blue green algae and distoms, which they forage in calm waters.

They walk or swim with head swinging from side to side, filtering food from surface of the water with the bill upside down and usually at night.

They fly in long skeins or v-formations, sometimes very high. A high pitched call – kwirrik or bleating a murmer murr – err, murr – err is given.

These flamingos breed in June and July, making a low mud cone nest with a hollow top in colonies established on mudflats.

One pale, bluish egg laid with the incubation of about 28 days. The nestling leaves the nest after six days to join a crèche of thousands of young being fed by both parents.

First flight takes place between 70 and 90 days.

The Zulu name is uNondwebu and in Afrikaans die kleinflamink.

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