Photo by VaclavSebek/Shutterstock.com
In the United States, Florida is the state most associated with flamingos, and it’s true that the Sunshine State is home to some wild flamingos and that the bird is likely native to the land. The other state that flamingos are sometimes attributed to is Texas, but is that also true. Are there flamingos in Texas?
Are There Flamingos in Texas?
Not Really, But Kinda
The short answer is no. Flamingos are not native to Texas, you will not find a flamboyance of flamingos in Texas, and the Lone Star State is not known to support flamingo communities.
But there is a long answer: kind of.
Enter No. 492
In June 2005, a storm rolled through the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, and two flamingos who lived at the zoo utilized the winds to make their escape. Zoo officials tried to recapture the fugitive flamingos, but the birds had other ideas and couldn’t be caught. The prison break was complete.
Photo by PabloRodriguezMerkel/Shutterstock.com
One of the flamingos has not been seen for many years and is assumed to be dead, but the other - known as No. 492 because of the tag on its leg - has been spotted a handful of times since the escape. The flamingo has shown up in multiple states, including Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Louisiana, but based on most recent sightings, it’s believed that No. 492 has made the Texas Gulf Coast its long-term home.
Every year for the last five years, someone has caught a glimpse of No. 492 along the Gulf Coast of Texas. No. 492 has become so popular that Texas Parks & Wildlife have given the flamingo a new nickname: Pink Floyd.
Pink Floyd was last seen in March. The Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department posted a video of the bird on Facebook on March 10, providing the latest update on the flamingo’s status and confirming it’s still alive and well.
So, There Are Flamingos in Texas? Did You Lie to Me? I Don't Like to Be Lied To.
No, I didn’t lie to you. Change your tone. Yes, there is a flamingo in Texas, but there are not flamingos in Texas.
See the difference? Very important distinction.
But Could Flamingos Live in Texas?
Pink Floyd seems to be doing alright, so maybe. And it’s doing it solo, which is especially impressive considering the bird’s preference for large flocks and socialization.
On a stormy night in 2005, an African flamingo — known as No. 492 because of the number on its leg band — managed to escape from a Kansas zoo. Now the bird has been spotted on the Texas coast, 17 years later! STORY: https://t.co/Oznc2ITPrM pic.twitter.com/mDRyHjeHzU— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@FOX13News) March 30, 2022
I am very far from a microbiologist, so I don’t know if Texas could support a population of wild flamingos if one were to be introduced. Would there be enough food for hundreds of the birds? How would it affect the already-established ecosystem? I don’t have a guess as to the answers to these questions, but we do know that at least one flamingo has been able to make it work in Texas for a while, and that has to mean something.
“We believe he actually moves around and follows food sources, which is why No. 492 is only sighted occasionally,” Anne Heitman, the curator of birds at the Sedgwick County Zoo, told Kristen Rogers of CNN on April 1. “As the food sources ebb and flow, (flamingos) follow them around. So he’s probably traveling to other regions, just where people aren’t probably seeing him. But he should be able to find the types of food that he needs down there.”
Is Pink Floyd Livin’ Free?
Yes, nobody is coming after Pink Floyd at this point.
“Once it flew away and was spotted in Texas, we were certainly happy to hear that it was OK,” Jennica King, the Sedgwick County Zoo Director of Strategic Communications, said to Rogers of CNN. “Every time we hear of it being spotted every couple of years, we’re still pleased that he’s doing well.
“We decided very early on, once he flew down to Texas, that we would not make any efforts that could potentially harm him or harm the wildlife around him,” King continued. “His presence down there is not hurting the ecosystem or anything, and he’s not a nuisance. Flamingos are very non-aggressive birds.”
and this is why you should never settle and model all your decision-making after flamingo no. 492...evade, difficult birds, evade!! pic.twitter.com/ZqSKNa0KgV— Devon Spier / חיה אריאל / Chaya Arielle / she/they (@devon_spier) April 2, 2022
What Should I Do If I See No. 492, a.k.a. Pink Floyd?
If you ever see No. 492, you can take photos and videos of the flamingo. But it's very important that you keep your distance at all times, and absolutely do not try to capture him. You do not want to scare No. 492 and potentially put him or yourself in harm’s way.
“Really the only threats to him down there would be humans, if people try to get too close, try to capture him or harm him in some way,” King told CNN. “We don’t want him feeling threatened and to end up harming himself or certainly have someone else harm him.”
Remember: if you see Flamingo No. 492, no you didn't pic.twitter.com/IM1Evmr88k— Conor Smith (@conorsmith) April 1, 2022
Pink Floyd is fugitive on the run, though, so don't blow up his spot too much. Just be cool, man, be cool.