Lesser Flamingo – Pilgrimage
Picking up and starting again elsewhere, a connection to and affiliation with the rain, pilgrimage, using the long journey as a life-saving device, being able to withstand great hardship that would kill another, using a hostile environment to your advantage, not allowing yourself to be overly tied to any one place, celebration of the harsh places, the magic of salt.
The lesser flamingo is found in Africa and Southern Asia, and is both the smallest flamingo, and the most numerous. Their greatest population (approximately two million) is found on the alkaline salt lakes of the Great Rift Valley. The lesser flamingo is an itinerant bird, moving when it’s environment is threatened. Breeding is irregular, and timed to rainfall, rather than season. It’s diet is specialised, as it only eats algae and diatoms found in alkaline lakes and salt-rich pans.
A lesser flamingo’s nest is made from mud, and raised to protect the chick from the acidic environment until it grows older, at which point they join a chick crèche of up to 100,000 individuals. These crèches are guarded by several adults who will lead them over forty kilometres on foot to fresh water. They are threatened by environment loss, habitat destruction, and the introduction of brine shrimp into environments that displace the algae they feed upon.