Lesser Flamingos at Zeekoevlei

28 May 2015 Posted by in Environment, Uncategorized | 9 comments

During this draw down there are a few Lesser Flamingos in Zeekoevlei. These birds are less common in Cape Town and the majority of flamingos that we see are Greater Flamingos. Lesser Flamingos are surface feeders, filtering small organisms from the top of the water column. Greater Flamingos on the other hand filter algae and organisms from the bottom water layers – this allows the two species to co-exist. The food of Lesser Flamingos are usually found in slightly more alkaline conditions than those of Greater Flamingo and their presence in the Vlei is probably due to the drought that the Cape Flats is experiencing – especially a lack of ground water. In the Western Cape the majority of the Lesser Flamingos are to be found in the salt work at Velddrfit and the West Coast National Park at Langebaan. Their breeding grounds are further up in Africa, with the primary breeding site at Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania and only three other breeding sites known. There is also a small population on the west coast of India. Although their population is thought to be some 2 million birds, they are classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN’s “Red List” due to their restricted breeding sites Lesser Flamingo are best identified by being smaller, pinker and importantly from a distance have a dark beak. Greater Flamingo have a two tone beak; do not put too much reliance on the sizes as sometimes Greater Flamingos can also be short in stature! . The next time you see a flock of flamingos look through them and see if you can spot some Lesser Flamingos; it may be many years before they visit us again.

Lesser and Greater Flamingos

Lesser and a Greater Flamingos together – compare the beaks (Photo: Walvis Baai)

  1. Charlene Jefferies05-28-15

    Thank you for this interesting information. Blessed we are to have such rare visitors!

  2. Julie Farquhar05-28-15

    Thanks Dalton, really interesting. Will look out for them.

  3. Dee05-28-15

    You are a Beak-on of light! Dalton, looking forward to your upcoming talks!! Dee

  4. Simon05-28-15

    Gr8 feedback thx Dalton….PS Don’t 4get the Batbox we ordered

  5. bev ing05-29-15

    good to know as they are such lovely birds. glad we can still be priveledged enough to be so close to them.

  6. Susanne K.05-29-15

    Only YOU Dalton can keep me enthralled about two types of flamingoes to the point that I get up my work desk now and get my binoculars to see if I can spot them. P.S- A batbox order from my side too…..

  7. Trevor06-01-15

    Hi Dalton

    I was wondering why Flamingos are to be found year- round at the pans at the sewage works in Zeekoeivlei



    • Dalton Gibbs06-03-15

      Hi Trevor

      The flamingos at the sewage works are mostly Greater Flamingo which are filter feeders on algae. their food is present in those nutrient rich waters all year round hence they are always there. Lesser Flamingo is much less common here.

  8. mark voges06-03-15

    Hi Dalton
    Thank you for the lesson,most interesting.
    I live in kommetjie and noticed a flock of Flamingos in the water at the old Kom.
    low and behold,I looked at the beak,to identify the birds and they are mostly black.
    Must be lesser Flamingos.

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