Flamingos have started appearing in Pennsylvania, Ohio and several other states where they’re normally not found, after Hurricane Idalia passed through Florida last week.
“We’re seeing flamingos all over the place,” American Birding Association (ABA) digital communications manager Nate Swick told NPR Thursday. “We’re seeing them in places that we didn’t expect them.”
Birdwatchers have spotted flamingos in Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Virginia since last week’s hurricane hit the Sunshine State with rain and 125 mph winds, according to an ABA Facebook page.
Swick said it’s common for some birds to relocate when hurricanes push them out of their homes. But flamingos usually remain in their native state.
Hannah McDougall from New Jersey-based Pelican Harbor Seabird Station told News Nation on Tuesday that the flamingos popping up in and near the Midwest likely got diverted while traveling to Cuba or the Bahamas. She suspects the colorful birds will return to their homes, but advises people that see flamingos in their towns to leave them be and “observe their beauty from afar.”
Swick told NPR there were previously flamingo sightings in Tennessee and Missouri in 2019 when Hurricane Barry came out of the Gulf of Mexico and drenched the deep south. The birds eventually returned to their homes.
American flamingos stand about 5-feet-tall and can live to be 60-years-old, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. They’re commonly found on Caribbean islands and along the northern coast of South America. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says fewer than 1% of the world’s flamingos live in Florida.