Saturday, December 28, 2013

Flamingo No. 492

There is a particular flamingo which is considered quite a coup for a birdwatcher to add to his or her lifelist. That would be Flamingo No. 492 (IMAGE ABOVE), who has quite a storied biography. The Caribbean flamingo was born in Yucatán, Mexico, and grew up in Tanzania and South Africa before being shipped with 39 of its fellows to the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, in 2004. The following year – before the bird had been blood-tested to determine its gender – 492 escaped. Since then it has been spotted in Wisconsin and Louisiana, and 8 years later it is still on the lam! It's a bit of a sore spot with the zoo, explains curator of birds Scott Newland. It is a black eye, to be honest. It was basically an error. We are not fond of this story....Every two or three years, another sighting of him pops up. The good thing is that if this is what gets people out watching wildlife, there is no harm in that.” The most recent sighting of the legendary bird was earlier this month, by Massachusetts birder Neal Hayward, in Cox's Bay off Port Lavaca on Texas's Gulf Coast. The 4' to 5' tall, pale pink 492 was spotted with a smaller, pinker bird, but with their sexes in question it is unknown whether the flamingos are friends or partners. But at the age of 18 and with a lifespan of 50, 492 has decades left to keep the birders wondering.


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