Hurricane Idalia has brought an unusual spectacle to the Midwest and eastern regions of the United States – flamingos, those distinctive pink, and gangly birds, have made appearances in unlikely places thanks to the storm.
These flamingos, believed to originate from Mexico, first started showing up in Florida and then continued their journey as far north as Ohio after the hurricane’s impact.
Jerry Lorenz, a member of the bird research group Audubon Florida, expressed amazement, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”
Flamingo Invasion The initial sightings of these flamingos occurred in Florida after Hurricane Idalia crossed the Caribbean Sea and made landfall in Florida as a category-three hurricane. Reports of sightings soon followed from Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, mirroring the storm’s path along the coast. Surprisingly, reports also emerged from inland areas, including Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Despite being a symbol of the state, Florida is home to only about 1% of the global flamingo population due to past hunting practices. As a result, flamingo sightings in the state are infrequent, leading to astonishment among locals when groups of flamingos, known as flamboyances, began appearing.
The birding community was thrilled by the unexpected arrivals. Mr. Lorenz remarked, “We will get a flamingo or two following storms [but] this is really unprecedented.”
Mr. Lorenz suggested that these flamingos were most likely in flight between Cuba and the Yucatan when Hurricane Idalia took its course.
“It’s just really surprising that if you follow the path of Idalia, it [the sightings] really does kind of fall out to the north and south of that central track,” he explained.
Pretty in Pink – But Handle with Care The northernmost sighting (so far) occurred at Caesar Creek Park lake, near Waynesville in southwest Ohio. Jacob Roalef reported seeing two of these birds—an adult and a juvenile—peacefully resting in about a foot of water near the shore before being startled by a dog.
Mr. Lorenz cautioned bird-watchers to be considerate when observing these “blow-ins,” as the birds are currently stressed from their recent journey, which he described as a “terrible ordeal.”
Regarding their future well-being, Mr. Lorenz assured that flamingos can cover thousands of miles in flight, so he remains confident that those in Ohio will have little trouble returning home before the harsh Midwest winter sets in.