TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — If you spot a flamboyance of flamingos in the Tampa Bay area this week, you have Hurricane Idalia to thank. The storm’s winds aided the pink birds in flight, landing some in Ft. DeSoto Beach to the amazement of bird watchers.
“I was taking a shot in the dark, in that they had been seen here in the area over the last few days, and I thought, well… it’s worth the drive. If I see it – great. If I don’t, I’ve had a day out,” said Shauna Riddell, who drove from Bradenton just to see the birds with her own eyes.
“I noticed that some of the birds that I’ve been seeing on the Facebook bird pages that other photographers have posted have bands on, and I believe that they had been traced to the Yucatán Peninsula,” Riddell added.
The birds are native to places like the Caribbean, South Florida, and the Florida Keys. They are seldom seen in the Tampa Bay area, but hurricanes tend to displace a variety of wildlife.
“It’s always amazing when you can make that connection with an animal out in the wild and see a species that you’re not used to seeing. And you always want to be respectful of the species,” said Jaime Vaccaro with Zoo Tampa.
But most of Monday’s sightseers were just there to take pictures and observe the birds in their newfound, temporary habitats.
“It was very exciting because I’ve never seen one here before. I don’t have a huge lens like some of the other photographers, but I still was able to get some decent shots,” said Suzanne Lamore, who is from Bradenton.
The birds are unlikely to stay around much longer, instead returning to their more native habitats over the coming weeks.