The long-legged wading birds have been sighted as far afield as Ohio, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas in recent days, according to Audubon Florida, a nonprofit that is tracking their movements.
Flamingos are also cropping up in parts of Florida where they are rarely seen, such as the north central Alachua County and Collier County on the southern Gulf Coast.
Audubon Florida’s state director for research Jerry Lorenz told CNN the distinctive pink birds may have been flying from Cuba to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico when they were blown off course by Idalia.
“We have never seen anything like this,” Mr Lorenz said, adding that fresh sightings were continuing to pour in.
“We will get a flamingo or two following storms (but) this is really unprecedented.”
In Kentucky, Amanda Frazier captured video of a flamingo at Cave Run Lake, 70 miles east of Lexington.
“My husband looked over, and he said, ‘Look at that flamingo!’ and we were laughing because we thought someone had brought a plastic one and pushed it down in the sand,” Ms Frazier told WKYT.
“It was just walking around, letting people come up to it and take its picture.”
According to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, it was the first ever recorded sighting of a flamingo in the state.
Spokesperson James Brunjer told WKYT that the bird would face challenges with the cooler temperatures and finding reliable food sources so far from its usual surroundings.
Mr Lorenz told CNN that flamingos blown into unfamiliar locations would have been through a “terrible ordeal”, and asked people to give them plenty of space.
“These birds are stressed right now,” Mr Lorenz said. “So don’t get close enough to startle them, to frighten them or anything else, but enjoy their presence.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, more than 95 per cent of flamingo sightings in the state occur in the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.
Source : Independent