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Pink flamingos are reappearing more frequently in the South Florida wilderness

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Florida. – The pink flamingo has been immortalized in plastic lawn ornaments, stylized on logos and featured in iconic scenes on the big and small screens, such as the opening sequence of Miami Vice.

Most people in South Florida typically only see the pink bird in captivity.

That is, until recently.

Valerie Preziosi, a conservationist and photographer in Big Pine Key, snapped photos of a lone flamingo wading in pristine waters in January. She previously said six flamingos were sighted in July 2020.

Preziosi said the flock, seen two years ago, was “split between the Ramrod and Big Torch Keys salt marshes” and provided a rare birding experience for local residents and birders.

In March, a flamingo and a white goose were seen at a horse race at Gulfstream Park; The flamingo appeared to have been hit by a horse.

A Gulfstream Park spokesman said a number of flamingos have been sighted in the infield in recent years.

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“Flamingoes were definitely present in Florida in the 1800s, and unfortunately people hunted the populations here to extinction,” said Dr. Steven Whitfield, conservation biologist at ZooMiami.

Whitfield said American flamingos were sometimes hunted for food and had their feathers plucked for fashion.

“A lot of people thought flamingos weren’t native because the history was so unclear,” Whitfield said.

When the birds appeared, he and his group of scientists wanted to know where they came from.

That’s when they noticed a trio of flamingoes near Key West in 2015. After a storm drove two of them away, a lone bird was left behind. They named it Conchy.

“Conchy showed up at the Naval Air Station in Key West. We were able to capture and tag Conchy with a satellite transmitter,” Whitfield recalled. “We expected him to go to Cuba or the Bahamas and leave Florida pretty quickly. But in the end he stayed for two years.”

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Whitfield says his team worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to redesignate flamingos as “native” in 2018, though FWC told Local 10 News that the pink-colored birds have always been considered natives.

Could flamingos be making a comeback in the wild?

“It looks like they are, and that’s really encouraging,” Whitfield said. “This is such an iconic bird for Florida. I think everyone would love to see her come back, it’s just a matter of how we do it.”

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https://www.local10.com/news/local/2022/05/24/pink-flamingos-showing-up-more-often-in-the-south-florida-wild-again/ Pink flamingos are reappearing more frequently in the South Florida wilderness

Sarah Y. Kim

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