A. Sexual maturity.
Flamingos reach sexual maturity several years after hatching and usually begin to breed at about six years of age.
B. Breeding seasons.
1. Breeding seems to occur at any time throughout the year, and flamingos may breed twice in a year. However, they may not breed every year.
2. Breeding and nest building may depend on rainfall and its effect on food supply.
3. Lesser flamingos may depend on algal blooms for proper mating in their feeding areas.
1. Groups of flamingos perform ritualized stretching and preening when courting begins.
2. Males group together and often run with bills pointed toward the sky and necks held straight out.
3. Birds interested in one another call to each other frequently and in unison.
D. Pair bonding.
Pair bonding between one male and one female is very strong during the breeding season. However, flamingos have been observed to mate with more than one partner. Some pairs of some species have been observed to stay together for more than one breeding season.
1. A female will most often initiate copulation by walking away from the group. A male follows close behind.
2. The female stops, lowers her head, and spreads her wings. This behavior is an invitation to the male to mount her.
3. Mating most often occurs in the water. The male jumps onto the female's back from behind, firmly planting his feet on her wing joints.
4. After mating, the male stands on the female's back, then jumps off over her head. He may then vocalize and shake his wings.
1. Flamingos build nest mounds made of mud, small stones, straw, and feathers. These mounds can be as high as 30 cm (12 in.).
2. Mound building begins up to six weeks before the eggs are laid.
3. Using their bills, both male and female participate in mound building by bringing mud and other objects toward their feet.
4. As they slowly construct the mound, the parents form a shallow well on the top where the egg is laid.
5. Mounds serve as protection against the extreme heat and flooding that occurs at ground level.
6. Mound building continues during incubation, as the flamingos pick up materials close to the nest.
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