The Conservancy is unique in the variety of its birdlife, offering over 450 species as well as exclusive access to the only nesting site of the Great White Pelican in Kenya. Details on the birds are given under ‘Conservancy’ on this website. Ornithological tours and walks can be organized to suit the specific interest of the either the group or the individual and can be as focussed or as general as required. Please contact us direct so that we can tailor our walk or game drive to suit your interest
Greater and lesser flamingoes
Elmenteita periodically hosts around 28% of the global population of greater and lesser flamingoes, which feed on its blue-green algae, Spirulina platensis. Highly gregarious, they migrate in their thousands between Lake Elmenteita and Lakes Nakuru and Bogoria. Promenading the shoreline in shifting lines of mature pink and immature white, they can be seen scything their beaks to and fro to sift algae from the water. Some stand on one leg, others chug through the water like ducks or upend and kick their shocking pink legs in the air; all murmur, honk and mutter in incessant dialogue, and overhead cyclamen and black flight formations arrow in, tiptoeing briefly on the water before fluttering to an elegant landing.
Flamingos (Pheonicopteridae) are a group of long-legged, long-necked birds that occur in large numbers in Kenya’s saline lakes. Their bills are characteristic; being flattened above with the tip bent down at an angle. Their plumage is mainly pink and white. (The colour depends on age: Grey – juvenile or immature, Pinkish-white – young, Pink – adult).
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus rubber)
Identification: 56 in 142cm. Plumage white with a pink wash, wing-coverts and auxillaries bright coral-red; flight feathers black, bill pink with black tip – a much larger and paler bird than the lesser flamingo, easily recognised by its pink bill and ‘S’-shaped neck.
Lesser Flamingo (Pheonicopterus minor)
Identification: 40in, 101cm. Plumage deep pink, much darker and brighter than the greater flamingo; bill dark carmine-red with black tip.
Did you know?
That, the pink colouring of the flamingos is due to their consumption of the blue-green algae, Spirulina Platensis, which produces a pigment that turns their plumage pink. Without it they would be white.
Great White Pelican
Also congregating in huge colonies are the great white pelicans, whose only East African nesting site is on the rocky lava islands of the lake. The pelicans feed on the lTilapia graham which flourish in the shallow water of the lake.
Great White Pelican fact file
Scientific Name: Pelecanus onocrotalus
Conservation category: Endangered species
World Distribution: Great white pelicans are found in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
Habitat: Great white pelicans spend a great deal of their time in the water. They usually choose large, freshwater lakes that have reed beds or small islands that can be used as safe places to nest as in lake Elmenteita.
Feeding: They feed mainly on fish, though they sometimes eat crustaceans (shrimp-like creatures). They often use teamwork when feeding: a group of 8-12 birds swim into a horseshoe shape to surround the fish, then, all together, they plunge in their beaks and scoop them out.
Predators: Vultures, eagles, jackals, hyenas, lions and crocodiles.
Breeding: Pelicans often breed in large colonies of 40,000 to 50,000 pairs. Nests are usually just a rough pile of twigs on the ground. Two eggs are laid, which both parents keep warm by taking turns to rest them on their feet. After 29-36 days the eggs hatch into bald, helpless chicks which the parents feed from a special liquid that runs down their beaks. The chicks are able to fly when they are 10 – 12 weeks old, but will not be ready to breed themselves until they are aged 3-4 years.
Lifespan: 15 -20 years in the wild, 60 in captivity.
Vital statistics: Average length:170 cm Average weight :9 kg
The lake hosts a stunning diversity of waterfowl including such rarities as great egret, Maccoa duck, and critically threatened great crested grebe. More common are the African spoonbills, red-billed teal, black and white stilts, white-necked cormorants, African fish eagles, plovers, herons and egrets.
Endemic and migrant birds
In the forested areas long-crested eagles, white-browed robin chats, coucals, woodpeckers, buntings and parrots are frequently seen, while the drier bush country features starlings, waxbills, bee-eaters and rollers. Doves, guinea fowls, francolins, babblers and cisticolas are also common.