Rare Flamingo Sightings Reported in Central Pa.

This flamingo was injured by a snapping turtle in St. Thomas, Franklin County, on Sept. 11, 2023. (Photo: Courtesy Raven Ridge Wildlife Center)

By Patrick Berkery

September 12, 2023

Flamingos have been spotted in Franklin County recently. On Monday, one of them was attacked by a snapping turtle, though the bird is expected to make a full recovery.

On the Pennsylvania wildlife spectrum, flamingo sightings are virtually nonexistent—unless you’re talking about plastic lawn decorations. The Pennsylvania Game Commission lists 414 wild birds currently in Pennsylvania, and the flamingo isn’t one of them.

But the pink birds have been spotted in some unusual, faraway places recently, following Hurricane Idalia. And one of those spots is Franklin County in Central Pa., where there have been flamingo sightings reported over the last couple of weeks.

The most recent sighting was at Long Lane Pond in St. Thomas on Monday, where two flamingos were spotted. Unfortunately, one of them was grabbed and injured by a snapping turtle, according to Amy Nabozny, information education supervisor for the south-central region of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

“We really weren’t aware of them until yesterday,” Nabozny said. “Apparently they’ve been here a couple weeks now, likely blown into the area by the hurricane. For whatever reason, they used that location as a resting post before they were ready to move on again.”

Nabozny said the Game Commission transported the injured flamingo to Raven Ridge Wildlife Center in Washington Boro., who then brought the bird to Companion Animal Hospital in Mt. Joy. While the bird sustained tissue, muscle, and tendon damage from the snapping turtle attack, no breaks were found and it is expected to make a full recovery.

According to Nabozny, it’s likely the other flamingo will stick around and wait for its partner to return, before they move on.

For those hoping to get a photo of the rare-to-Pa. birds, Nabozny said to be respectful.

“Everyone wants to see a flamingo, because how often do you see one in Pennsylvania?,” she said. “Just give them their space. And if you see one on private property, respect the property. The birds will move on when they’re ready.”

According to the American Birding Association, flamingos have shown up in at least 10 states since Isalia. Experts believe the flamingos were blown off course while flying between Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba.

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