Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
American Flamingo - Phoenicopterus ruber
Sole representative of Phoenicopteridae in NC
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General Comments This species is familiar to most people only from zoos, but it is an American species that breeds mainly around a portion of the Caribbean Sea, straying routinely to southern FL. Until Fall 2023, nearly all reports of American Flamingos for the Eastern States were considered by records committees as escapes. However, Hurricane Idalia churned northward between the Yucatan Peninsula (where flamingos occur in numbers) and western Cuba, pushing northward to the FL Panhandle and then northeastward to and off the coast of the Carolinas, at the end of August 2023. By early Sep, flamingo reports were appearing in a handful of Southeastern States, with SC getting its first on 1 Sep. Not surprisingly, NC birders looked for, and did find, flamingos in NC waters on 2 Sep! In fact, a flock of 11 birds was seen at an impoundment at Pea Island NWR (Dare) that day; the birds quickly moved to nearby Pamlico Sound. This group increased in number to at least 17 birds for many weeks in Sep and Oct, but numbers obviously dwindled as the weather got colder. Two remained until 20 Nov, and the last report was one there on 27 Nov [Chat 88:6-7 link]. There seemed to be one or two other NC reports during this time frame, but these were perhaps not verified; thus, all of the birds were essentially found as a tight group at a single site. This should constitute as a single record, for now. Many photographs were taken (with photos on the Carolina Bird Club Photo Gallery), and the NC BRC is currently voting on the report now -- for identification and for provenance, though the occurrence of flamingos in ten or more Eastern states in Sep seems to clearly relate to wild birds being pushed or carried northward by this hurricane.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Provisional
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SA
Global Rank G4
Coastal Plain One record (see above). Any previous reports were not considered for a vote by the NC BRC or were not accepted as wild birds.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips
Attribution LeGrand[2024-02-10], LeGrand[2024-02-08]