Bird watchers and avian enthusiasts have flocked to the Everglades for many years to catch sight of a number of rare birds. From Bald Eagles to Ibis, Red Shouldered Hawks to the Everglades Snail Kite, some of the most magnificent sights to see in the Glades are in the air or in the trees. One bird that is not always associated with the Everglades? The Flamingo!
In the early 1800s, South Florida and the Everglades was visited by the beloved pink birds. At this time, Flamingos traveled in droves to spend their winter away from their homes in South and Central America in the tropical climate of the Florida Everglades. Unfortunately, over time, these birds were almost eradicated by early settlers through egg and feather harvesting, and the beautiful pink creature no longer dotted the landscape of the Everglades.
Flamingos have been returning to the Everglades and South Florida.
According to the National Audubon Society, an organization that protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation, 147 flamingos were recorded in Florida in 2015.
“They keep coming back every year,” says Mark Cook, lead scientist of Everglades Systems Assessment at South Florida Water Management District. He said it “amazes” him that the birds found the freshwater wetlands in the center of the state, 80 miles northwest of where they historically occurred.
The question remains, did these birds escape from exotic animal zoos or are they wild migratory birds? Though the answer is still unknown, populations continue to rise. Our friends at Good Time Charters even caught sight of a wild Flamingo on one of their tours!
Many state and local organizations are hard at work to “tag” the birds while they are in our area in hopes of tracking their movements. Though this is not an easy task, researchers state that they have noticed many of the local Flamingos are pair bonded and stay close together. Fun fact: Flamingos are believed to mate for life!
Only time (and science) will tell where these birds are coming from and if we can expect their populations grow in the Everglades and other areas of Florida.
Though numbers are low, guests on our adventure tour are encouraged to keep an eye out and have a camera ready for a flamingo sighting.