Rare sighting: A flamingo was spotted in the wild near the Ten Thousand Islands

Published: January 11, 2022 5:19 PM EST
Updated: January 11, 2022 6:06 PM EST

A photograph of a flamingo is making waves in Collier County.

The bird was spotted in a group of pelicans.

Experts say it’s a pretty rare sight.

Capt. Craig Daniels of Capt. Craig’s Adventures was lucky enough to spot the flamingo on a geocaching trip to the Ten Thousand Islands on Monday.

He is a seventh-generation Southwest Floridian but this was his first time seeing this.

“I see something in there that I thought first was a piece of orange-colored trash or something sticking on a stick, I guess because the flamingo had his head tucked in his back,” Daniels said. 

But it was much cooler than trash or a stick.

“Then I thought it was one of those fake lawn things that people stick in their lawn, and they just stuck on with all the white pelicans,” Daniels said. “Then the bird just took off flying and he flew all the way around our boat.”

Daniels quickly took photos of the uncommon sight, something bird experts are grateful for.

“We never actually had photographs. So this is our first confirmed Flamingo in the county, Collier County,” said Rochelle Streker, a Southwest Florida shorebird manager with Audobon Florida. 

While the photos are great for confirmation, the harder part is knowing where it came from, Streker said.

“Weather is a big one, sometimes birds when they’re trying to avoid storms or little swells and stuff like that will kind of head inwards or upwards to where they’re not normally found to try and avoid that weather pattern,” Streker said. “Sometimes birds just get kind of confused and they accidentally end up somewhere they’re not supposed to be.”

Daniels was excited to see the flamingo but he also wanted to make sure he could share the experience with others.

“As excited as I felt from seeing the flamingo, I thought that it wasn’t fair that everybody else in the area didn’t get to share in it. And so I just want everybody to be excited to know that there’s stuff like that out there and so keep your eyes open,” he said.

The FWC said American flamingoes have been spotted along Florida’s coast but outside of Hialeah, more than 95% of sightings were in the Everglades, Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.

They have also been spotted along the northern fringe of the Everglades.