Many scientists are saying the birds hitched a ride during Hurricane Idalia last week. And while flamingos are synonymous with Florida, they aren’t commonly found throughout the Sunshine State.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), 95% of flamingo sightings usually occur within the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.
Hannah McDougall with Pelican Harbor Seabird Station said everyone can thank the storm’s strong winds for redirecting their flight.
“These birds are most likely just blown off course, while they were traveling maybe from the Yucatan to Cuba or the Bahamas,” McDougall said.
Flamingos have reportedly had one foot on the ground in at least eight states: Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
In less than a week, the rare flamingo frenzy has received the attention of the birdwatching world. But with that comes a warning.
“As with all wild animals, you never want to touch them or approach them. Just let them be and observe their beauty from afar,” McDougall said.
But for those hoping to get a look at the leggy, pink-wading birds, scientists say this is more of a connecting flight than the flamingos’ final destination.
“It could be their new home, but my inclination is that they’ll probably just return to where they came from,” McDougall said.
WFLA contributed to this report.