Scientists have long wondered whether the bright pink birds are native to Florida.
Few of us Floridians are native to the state. Even our emblematic flamingos were widely thought to be escapees from captivity—until now.
A new study sheds new light on a long-standing controversy by suggesting flamingos are indeed true residents of the Sunshine State.
FOOD AND FEATHERS
There are six species of flamingo, and the American, or greater, flamingois found in Florida. The bird also lives in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.
"During the 1800s, it was commonly accepted that [flamingos] were native," says study leader Steven M. Whitfield, a conservation ecologist at Zoo Miami's Conservation and Research Department.
Naturalist John James Audubon himself visited Florida in the 1830s specifically to see flamingos, Whitfield says by email. By 1900, though, flamingos had been hunted for food, skins, and feathers—almost to their vanishing point.