Flamingos Show Up Way North for First Time Ever

Five of them appear in Wisconsin, along a Lake Michigan beach
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 25, 2023 11:31 AM CDT
Flamingos Show Up Way North for First Time Ever
Flamingos stand by the water along a Lake Michigan beach on Friday in Port Washington, Wisconsin.   (Paul A. Smith/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via AP)

Five flamingos that showed up in Wisconsin to wade along a Lake Michigan beach attracted a big crowd of onlookers eager to see the unusual visitors venturing far from their usual tropical setting. The American flamingos spotted Friday in Port Washington, about 25 miles north of Milwaukee, marked the first sighting of the species in Wisconsin state history, said Mark Korducki, a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The birds stood quietly 25 feet off Lake Michigan's western shoreline as waves lapped against their thin legs. Three were adults, identifiable by their pink plumage, and two were juveniles clad in gray, per the AP.

Jim Edlhuber of Waukesha was among a crowd of about 75 bird enthusiasts drawn to the city's South Beach after word spread on social media about the flamingos' appearance there. "This is huge. This is unbelievable," said Edlhuber, an avid birder and photographer. The sighting was unexpected but not a total shock due to recent reports of flamingos in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, said Ryan Brady, conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife biologists hypothesize that the flamingos were pushed north in late August by the strong winds of Hurricane Idalia, the Journal Sentinel reports. The typical range of the American flamingo is Florida and other Gulf Coast states, as well as the Caribbean and northern South America. Debbie Gasper of Port Washington made the short trip to the lakefront with her husband, Mark. She said that before Friday, the only flamingos she's seen have been on the couple's trips to Aruba. Gasper said she was going to send photos of the birds to relatives in Georgia who "aren't going to believe it."

(More flamingos stories.)

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