Are There Flamingos in Flamingo (and the Everglades)?
At the end of the main road through Everglades National Park sits the small community of Flamingo. For those who visit Flamingo (and the Everglades), many often ask: are there flamingos in Flamingo?
American flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) have long captured the imaginations of bird enthusiasts and conservationists alike. Prior to the 1900s, American flamingos were a familiar sight in Florida. Renowned naturalist John James Audubon even illustrated them for his famous work, “Birds of America.” These elegant birds were also reported as regular visitors to Key West.
Sadly, the abundance of American flamingos in Florida did not last. The demand for flamingo feathers, skins, and meat led to their overexploitation, and the draining of large portions of the Everglades only increased the speed with which flamingos disappeared. By the 1920s, captive flamingo colonies were established in Florida, such as a famous flock at Hialeah Park Race Track. However, the wild flamingos had all but disappeared from the state, and any flamingo sightings involved birds that had escaped from these captive flocks.
Happily, recent years have seen a remarkable resurgence in the presence of wild flamingos in the Sunshine State. In 2015, a wild flamingo dubbed “Conchy” appeared at Naval Air Station Key West. Eventually captured and taken to Zoo Miami for rehabilitation, Conchy made a remarkable recovery and was released back into the wild. To the astonishment of researchers, he remained in Florida for two years, proving that suitable habitat still existed for these birds.
Since then, sightings of flamingos in Florida have increased significantly, with an estimated 1,000 individuals present in the state. While many of these birds are temporary visitors, there is hope that they will establish permanent populations once again. Florida offers a native habitat, and if flamingos face habitat loss elsewhere, this area can serve as a critical refuge.
Additionally, conservation efforts in the Everglades have intensified to enhance the habitat for wading birds like flamingos. These initiatives aim to reverse the ecological damage caused by past habitat alterations and help reestablish a thriving population of these iconic birds.
So, the answer to the question: Yes, there are flamingos in Flamingo and the Everglades, and hopefully there will soon be more.