Rookery Bay News

Rare Sighting of American Flamingo at Rookery Bay Research Reserve

After hearing about a report of an American Flamingo in the Rookery Bay Research Reserve, staff went out by boat to confirm and document the sighting. Staff were thrilled to find this vibrant adult American Flamingo roosting with American White Pelicans in the Ten Thousand Islands!

95% of all American Flamingos seen in Florida are found within Everglades National Park, Biscayne Bay or the Florida Keys. This is the first time an American Flamingo has been photographed and documented as confirmed in Collier County!  Staff believe this to be a wild bird as most captive flamingos will have some marking, such as a leg band, to indicate they are captive.

In the wild Flamingos pink color comes from carotenoids in their diet. Carotenoids are found in shrimp and crustaceans and are what cause shrimp to turn pinkish red when cooked. A diet lacking in these pigments will cause newly grown feathers to become lighter and less vibrant. The vibrant pink glow to this flamingo tells us it has had a healthy diet and is likely a healthy bird that’s just a bit outside usual home range. Studies suggest that the American Flamingos ranges could be expanding Northward but currently this is an incredibly rare sighting and staff were honored to be able to observe the bird in Rookery Bay Reserve. 

We ask that anyone who also see this bird to please give it and the pelicans respect and space so we can reduce human disturbance to this rare bird. If you see birds begin to move away from your location, you’re too close, you should back away and observe from a further distance. 

Rookery Bay Research Reserve

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve stretches across 110,000 acres of pristine mangrove forest, uplands and protected waters. We are committed to preservation through research, education, and land protection.

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