Lake Nakuru sees a bright spot on the horizon

The long-missed pink flamingos have returned to Kenya’s Lake Nakuru. Eight years ago, rising water levels at Lake Nakuru drove away the pink-coloured flamingos. The flamingos are the park’s biggest attraction and now they’re back!

Flocks of flamingos

Flamingos are the most instantly recognizable wading birds in the world. They capture the hearts of bird lovers and non-bird lovers! Flocks of flamingos are seen looking for food in the lake’s turquoise waters, while others flap in a wave formation and a rhinoceros grazes nearby.

The return of the flamingos rekindles hopes of a gradual rebound in an area reliant on tourists. Caroline Mwebia, the park’s tourism warden said “with the increase of the number of flamingos we have started seeing visitors also increasing“.

The beautiful flamingos eat insect larvae and algae that gives them their pink hue. High water levels shrink the birds’ ideal breeding and feeding grounds.

Mwebia said “when Nakuru Lake first rose, flamingos left for nearby lakes like Bogoria and Baringo whose waters were shallower. But heavy rains in recent years have also flooded those lakes, forcing the birds to return to Nakuru, where they are an intrinsic attraction.”

The flamingos are so popular that the street leading up to the park is decorated with flamingo-shaped lampposts.

‘…they are an intrinsic attraction…’

Some Flamingo Trivia

  • There are only six species of flamingos in the world, they all belong to the bird family Phoenicopteridae, and they are the only members of that scientific bird family.
  • Flamingos are popular guests in many zoos, aviaries, aquariums, marine parks, and botanical gardens well outside their native ranges.
  • The word ‘flamingo’ comes from the Spanish and Latin word ‘flamenco’ which means fire, and refers to the bright colour of the birds’ feathers.
  • Not all flamingos are brightly coloured, some of the birds are mostly grey or white. The strength of a flamingo’s coloration comes from its diet. Younger birds also have less coloration.
  • While flamingos are considered wading birds, the same classification as herons, egrets, spoonbills, and cranes, they are most closely related to grebes genetically.
  • Flamingos are strong but rare swimmers and powerful fliers, even though they’re most often seen just wading. Flamingos do fly very well, however, many flamingos migrate or regularly fly between the best food sources and nesting grounds.
  • When flying in a flock, the top speed of a flamingo can be as high as 56 kilometres per hour.
  • Flamingos are monogamous birds that lay only a single egg each year. If that egg is lost, stolen, damaged, or does not hatch, they do not typically lay a replacement.
  • The pink, orange, or red colour of a flamingo’s feathers is caused by carotenoid pigments in their food. A wild flamingo’s diet includes shrimp, plankton, algae, and crustaceans skimmed from different water sources. In zoos and aviaries, captive flamingos are often fed a specialized diet that helps preserve and enhance their unique coloration.
  • Flamingos often stand on one leg to preserve body heat, tucking the other leg into their plumage so it is kept warm. They will alternate legs to regulate their body temperature.
    A flock of flamingos is called a stand, colony, regiment, or flamboyance.
  • Flamingos have a wild lifespan of 20-30 years, but in captivity have been recorded as living up to 50 years or longer. Captive flamingos typically live longer because they are not subject to predators, poachers, or other threats.
  • Visitors to Lake Nakuru also enjoy the wide ecological diversity and varied habitats. These include the lake itself, the surrounding escarpment and picturesque ridges.

‘…enjoy the wide ecological diversity…’