Ordinarily, we hightail it out of here at the end of March, heading for cooler climates. But being marooned in Florida is offering up some unexpected delights, from fireflies to flamingos.
A Flamingo? Really?
Despite the vast quantities of plastic pink flamingos found in Florida, real live flamingos are scarce outside of zoos or amusement parks. But just a few days ago, we had the thrill of hanging out with a wild flamingo.
In November 2018, Hurricane Michael relocated an American Flamingo from the Yucatan to St. Mark’s Wildlife Refuge in the Florida Panhandle. “Pinky,” as the flamingo is affectionately called by adoring fans, seems to like it there, and has become something of a celebrity.
I, of course, needed to see Pinky. St. Mark’s Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite wildlife refuges, and at only 60 miles away, it took nothing for me to convince Eric to spend a day there birding. We arrived at the refuge mid-morning and headed immediately for the pond where Pinky is known to spend time.
Alas, I didn’t take into consideration that even with the help of binoculars, Pinky was going to be just a pink dot on the horizon.
“Let’s put the kayak in!” I suggested. “No way,” said Eric. “The water is four inches deep and I’m not dragging the kayak through the mud in an alligator-infested pond.”
So we put the kayak in. We did, however, wait a couple of hours for high tide, when the water was six inches deep. One of the benefits of a kayak is that you can paddle in a puddle.
It was worth the effort. We hung out with Pinky (not too close, we didn’t want to disturb him) and just admired him.
Flamingos stand five feet tall, with a wingspan of up to 50 inches. When young, they’re a pale gray color. Their flamboyant adult pink plumage comes from eating crustaceans and algae.
Shallow, brackish waters like this pond are just the kind of place flamingos love. They stir up mud with their feet and sweep their heads from side to side, keeping their large bills beneath the surface of the water to capture food. Their unique backward-curved bills have comb-like plates that act as a sieve.
A Few More Flamingo Colored Things
There’s plenty to entertain us in the backyard here. The spring migration of birds has been outstanding. But for this post, I’m sticking with the theme of “flamingo colored.”
Sending hugs to all of you from north Florida. We hope you’re doing well.