Flamingos have been spotted as far north in the US as Ohio and Pennsylvania in recent days, after they were blown off course by the powerful Hurricane Idalia that hit Florida late last month, experts say.
The distinctive birds have been reported in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, also in Texas and further north from their typical habitats, in Kentucky and even Ohio, Jerry Lorenz, the state director of Audubon Florida, told CNN. They were also seen in Franklin county in southern Pennsylvania on Thursday, NPR reported.
American flamingos are typically found in the Caribbean or the northern coast of South America, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. Native to Florida, they were nearly hunted out of existence in the late 19th century because their feathers were prized for women’s hats, NPR reported in 2018.
Some of the flamingos in Florida appear to have come from the Yucatán peninsula, after observers saw tags linking them to the Mexican peninsula. A Florida weather reporter said flamingos arrived there from Cuba.
“It’s a special experience because … after a while, you get used to seeing all the common birds that are here; so to see something different is really uplifting,” Loren Erickson, a retired army doctor told the Virginian-Pilot.
It is not exactly clear how the birds wound up in the unfamiliar locales. They may have been hit by Idalia when traveling from Yucatán to Cuba and gone with the storm, Nate Swick, digital communications manager for the American Birding Association, told NPR. “We do know those birds mostly came from the Yucatán peninsula. And they, you know, they got caught up in the storm and just kind of went with it,” he told the outlet.
“We have never seen anything like this,” Lorenz told CNN. “We will get a flamingo or two following storms [but] this is really unprecedented.”
Naturalists in the Cincinnati area of Ohio were incredulous when reports came in of wild flamingos being seen in Warren county.
Cory Christopher, the director of conservation at the Cincinnati Nature Center, told local outlet WCPO that he was skeptical when he first heard wild flamingos had landed in Ohio, then realized it was true. He said the birds will probably be able to find their way south again.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/sep/08/ohio-flamingos-hurricane-idalia Flamingos spotted as far north as Ohio after being blown off course by Idalia | US news