In the pink: American Flamingo madness in late summer 2023

Andrew Farnsworth The Cornell Lab Sep 04, 2023

An incredible and far-flung array of American Flamingo observations highlight the late summer birding scene in eastern North America this week, perhaps with particular relevance to the recent passage of Hurricane Idalia. This storm entrained and displaced a number of Gulf of Mexico species far inland in the southeastern US, but none so far has seen the geographic extent, nor quite the splash of the vagrant spectacle, of the flamingo observations.

The amazing occurrences of this species far from its typical range but also from the path of the recent storm may inspire some questions (!) about the mechanisms behind this pattern (though vagrancy in flamingos is known sometimes famously) – first, were impacts of this storm’s circulation far more extensive in capturing birds than we imagined?; second, were American Flamingos, coincidentally, already on the move this year (or prone to be) as a function of environmental conditions (e.g. record-breaking or near-record-breaking water temperatures in the Caribbean; regional high temperatures)?; or third, is some combination of both of these at work? (Of course, there are more stories to tell, here, beyond these three, but these are some of the first that come to mind). With information that at least some of these birds originated from colonies in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, based on banding data, BirdCast will update this post in the coming weeks with additional information once we see a fuller extent of a pink wave or ripple!

Please follow along on this live map to see American Flamingo observations to date since the passage of Idalia. If you receive a message regarding a disconnection from the server, please reload.