Bird enthusiasts were in for a wonderful surprise when a flamingo was spotted in Lake County on Saturday, July 13.
Though there have been no sightings of the bird since Saturday as of press time, it looks as though the lone flamingo had a relaxing Tennessee vacation in a flooded field off Highway 79 West.
Many observers noticed the flamingo with a congregation of great egrets, which are common to the area.
The unusual sighting (possibly the first flamingo sighting in Tennessee) drew the attention of many bird enthusiasts when a post was made to a Facebook group called TENNESSEE RARE BIRD ALERT on Saturday afternoon.
Several people from the group made the trip out to Lake County to take a look at the flamingo, which stayed in the field for most of the day Saturday, remaining visible to onlookers until dark.
Some bird enthusiasts believe this may be the first time a wild flamingo has been seen in Tennessee, but that has not been verified.
There are six species of flamingos, but only one found in the United States, which is the American flamingo.
Don’t let the name fool you. American flamingos aren’t actually very common in the U.S., but are common in other parts of North America and nearby islands.
According to the Audubon Society, flocks of flamingos from the Bahamas regularly migrated to Florida Bay until about 1900.
Wild flamingos seen in the Florida Bay are often wanderers from a Bahamian flock. American flamingos are occasionally seen in coastal Texas, coming from colonies on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
However, the Audubon Society says most flamingos seen loose in North America are considered as possible escapees from aviaries or zoos.
However, those who saw the flamingo say there are no visible signs the bird has been in captivity, such as a leg band or other marker.
The Lake County Banner reached out to the nearest zoos, and zoos in Saint Louis and Nashville confirmed the flamingo did not come from their facilities.
A representative from the Memphis Zoo had not responded as of press time.
Other birds not common to the area, such as the roseate spoonbill, which is also pink, have been spotted nearby.
The appearance of multiple birds who generally stay in the coastal south may suggest that the birds spotted have moved further north to avoid Tropical Storm Barry, which made landfall in Louisiana over the weekend.