There’s a whole lot of flamingo love headed to Lake Natron

Lesser flamingo flock at Lake Bogoria, Kenya.
Photo: Rainbirder/Flickr

Tanzania’s Lake Natron will soon resemble a couple’s resort for hundreds of thousands of East African lesser flamingos.

The nomadic birds fly between alkaine soda lakes along the rift valley, but only nest in significant numbers at Lake Natron, which serves as a breeding ground for about three quarters of the species population worldwide. That’s because of the lake’s unique topographic qualities; when there has been just the right amount of rain, salt islands are exposed in the middle of the lake. The surrounding water provides a sort of protective moat from predators, and the flamingos can breed and nest in safety.

But many years, the conditions aren’t right. In the past, too much rain has flooded nests, while droughts exposed the birds to predation. Some years, the flamingos don’t breed at all.

This is not one of those years. Researchers are expecting this to be the biggest breeding party for the species since 2007. Right now, about 700,000 lesser flamingos are on the move from Lake Bogoria in Kenya. People living along the migratory route have woken to hundreds of wings flapping as the birds fly nightly to their sexual Shangri-La. Some have even overheard the birds making cheesy jokes like, “If this alkaline lake’s a’rockin, don’t come a’knockin.”

Not really… I’m sure real flamingo jokes are much better than that one.

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