How Rain Affects Flamingo Mating

flamingos mating in rain
Two Flamingos in the Rain - Photo by suhendri/

Despite what you were told as a child, humans don’t have their babies delivered by storks, and flamingos are the same. I probably don’t need to explain how humans mate to you, and you’re probably quite aware that human mating has little to do with the weather outside. But that’s not the same for flamingos.

Flamingos care much more about what the weather is for their mating. In fact, it plays a large role in whether or not they’ll mate at all. There’s a strong link between flamingo mating and rain.

Flamingos Are Just Mating in the Rain

Gene Kelly was just singin’ in the rain. Flamingos are doing something different in the rain.

There are reasons for this. Rain means a couple of things for flamingos: first, it means a greater abundance of food. Rain fills the lagoons, alkaline lakes, and other bodies of water that flamingos love to hang out in with water to host the tasty morsels flamingos feed on. If there’s a drought, those food resources dry up, at least relatively, and it makes flamingos less likely to mate.

Secondly, rain provides supplies for nests. Mud is a crucial part of the nest building process for flamingos, and more rain means more mud to work with. Without rain, it becomes harder to build nests, which are necessary for flamingos to lay their eggs.

When flamingos mate, it isn’t just a few of them deciding to reproduce. An entire flamboyance will decide to either mate or not mate all at once, so if it isn’t raining enough, there won’t be enough food to eat or materials to build with for the entire group to reproduce.

There are some other quirky aspects to how flamingos mate, like their mating dances that are some of the most incredible sights you can capture in nature. For humans, who famously (or infamously, in some situations) don’t consider much of anything when mating, it probably seems strange for something as fickle as the rainfall to affect such a thing, but for flamingos, it makes perfect sense.

What About Climate Change?

If the amount of rain affects whether or not flamingos will mate, then how does climate change fit into that?

Well, not positively.

If it doesn’t rain enough, flamingos are a lot less likely to reproduce. Changing climates across the world mean that some places that used to receive regular rain are now experiencing droughts. That means the flamingos that live in the area aren’t getting the rain they need to mate, and if that continues, it could have serious ramifications for the future flamingo population.