They’re pink, they’re gangly, and they’re strutting their stuff in some of the unlikeliest places thanks to Hurricane Idalia.
Flamingos have been spotted in the Midwest and eastern parts of the US after being blown in by the storm.
Birds thought to be from Mexico first started appearing in Florida and then made landfall as far north as Ohio.
“We have never seen anything like this,” said Jerry Lorenz, of the bird research group Audubon Florida.
The birds began showing up in Florida after Idalia crossed the Caribbean sea and hit the state late last month as a category-three hurricane.
Reports then came flying in from Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia – roughly the storm’s route as it travelled up the coast – but also inland in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio.
Despite being a state icon, Florida is home to only about 1% of the global flamingo population due to hunting, and sightings are rare, meaning locals reported astonishment when flamboyances – which is what a group of flamingos is called – began appearing.
The excitement of the “blow-ins” was palpable among the birding community, Mr Lorenz told US media.
“We will get a flamingo or two following storms [but] this is really unprecedented,” he said.
Mr Lorenz added that the birds were probably flying between Cuba and the Yucatan when the storm started to blow.
“It’s just really surprising that if you follow the path of Idalia, it [the sightings] really does kind of fall out to the north and south of that central track,” he said.
Pretty in pink – but give them space
The furthest north sighting (so far) was in the picturesque Caesar Creek Park lake, near Waynesville in south-west Ohio.
Jacob Roalef told US media that he saw two of the birds – an adult and a juvenile – “just hanging out and sleeping in about a foot of water near the shore” before they were scared off by a dog.
Mr Lorenz warned bird-watchers to be careful around the blow-ins.
“These birds are stressed right now,” said Mr Lorenz. “They just went through a terrible ordeal.”
As for their future wellbeing, Mr Lorenz says flamingos can fly for thousands of miles, so he is confident those in Ohio will have little problem getting home before the Midwest winter begins to bite.
Source : BBC