Flamingos Spotted on Wisconsin Beach — the First Wild Flamingo Sighting in the State's History!

Other landlocked states also witnessed rare sightings of the bright pink wading bird after Hurricane Idalia

Wisconsin received a flock of unexpected visitors this week.

Five flamingos were seen wading in Lake Michigan in the landlocked midwestern state on Friday, according to ABC News.

The American flamingos were spotted at South Beach in Port Washington, located about 25 miles north of Milwaukee, per the outlet.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology said that the sighting of the wild flamingos — three adults and two juveniles — was the first in Wisconsin state history.

As the pink and gray birds stood in the water, waves crashing against their legs, they drew a crowd of onlookers curious to see the birds so far from their usual tropical habitat, per ABC News.

Jim Edelhuber, a bird watcher and photographer from the nearby city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, was in the crowd of about 75 people who made the trip to see the birds after word of their arrival spread online, ABC News reported.

"This is huge," Edelhuber told the outlet. "This is unbelievable."



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Port Washington native Debbie Gasper also flocked to the beach to see the flamingos, per ABC News. Before the sighting, she said she had only seen flamingos on trips to Aruba with her husband.

Gasper told ABC News that she planned to send pictures of the rare sight to relatives in Georgia, adding that they "aren't going to believe it."

<p>Getty</p> Lake Michigan shoreline in Port Washington.


Lake Michigan shoreline in Port Washington.

While unexpected, the birds’ appearance in Wisconsin was not completely out-of-the-blue, given recent sightings of flamingos in other landlocked states, Ryan Brady, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, told ABC News.

Generally distributed throughout the Caribbean Islands and northern coast of South America, per the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, American flamingos have been spotted in several parts of the U.S. since Hurricane Idalia hit Florida at the end of August.

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According to USA Today, the birds first appeared all over Florida as Hurricane Idalia crossed the state.

Florida native Vinnie Fugett told WFTS Tampa Bay that, during this time, he saw flamingos on Treasure Island Beach for the first time. "I was completely shocked after living here for 35 years, my entire life, and being a Florida native," he told the outlet. "I've never seen flamingos in the area."

Fugett added, "You think of flamingos when you think of Florida, but traditionally, you don't actually see them walking up and down the beach unless you go to Busch Gardens or Sunken Gardens."

Following the Florida sightings, flamingos scattered across the U.S., and birders on social media went into a frenzy, sharing news of unexpected sightings, per USA Today.

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Experts say Hurricane Idalia was responsible for redirecting the flamingos' standard flight patterns — and dispersing them throughout the country.

"These birds are most likely just blown off course while they were traveling maybe from the Yucatan to Cuba or the Bahamas," Hannah McDougall of the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station told WAVY.

Before touching down in Wisconsin, flamingos had reportedly been seen in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia as of Sept. 5, WAVY reported.

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Jerry Lorenz, state director of research for Audubon Florida, told USA Today that the flamingos "came in on the storm, whether they wanted to or not."

As for the birds' future, Lorenz said they may return to their original colonies, though he wants the Florida flamingos to stick around and reestablish a wild breeding population.

"That's what we're hoping they'll do," he said.

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