Hold the phone! Birders find Hamptons flamingo definitely not first in NYS


The American flamingo that’s been delighting folks out in East Hampton’s Georgica Pond isn’t the first to have shown up in New York — as news reports from over the weekend indicated.

Members of the birding community have done their research, as they’re apt to do.

And that unearthed this Long Island Advance archived newspaper from Nov. 16, 1978, with a two-column photo of a flamingo at Peat Hole in Bellport plastered right on the cover.

It references four recorded sightings, the last being eight years prior, in Shinnecock.


But there’s more.

“In the excitement over the potential addition of American Flamingo to the New York State Checklist, people have been curious about prior records,” writes New York State Ornithological Association volunteer Shai Mitra of Bay Shore.

He alone highlighted four other prior occurrences of the American Flamingo in the state in the 20th century — three on the South Fork of Long Island, and another along the Hudson River shoreline near Coxsackie, N.Y.

The earliest record Mitra found was Speonk in 1915, cited on page 471 of the book, “Birds of the New York Area,” by John Bull.

Here is what Mitra pulled from the book:

“Shot by duck hunters… mounted specimen still in Westhampton.’”

“Described by Leroy Wilcox as ‘in bright plumage’ and was considered by Bull to have ‘possibly wandered north or was hurricane borne, but of this we cannot be certain.'”

Mitra also found records of flamingos spotted in Shinnecock Bay (1931), and another in Mecox Bay and Shinnecock inlet (1966). The upstate sighting was recorded in 1964.

“All of these were doubted as natural vagrants at the time, but no evidence of captive origin is cited in any of the cases (except for “faded plumage” in one case), and what is known of the dates and locations of their occurrences actually appear consistent with natural vagrancy. In particular, the records from 1964 and 1965 occurred during a period of multiple occurrences in nearby Massachusetts and elsewhere,” Mitra wrote.

Others who posted on messages boards or on eBird found others as well.

Zach Schwartz-Weinstein pointed out there was a report from last year, on Oct. 1, of a flamingo flying up the Hudson in northern Ulster County, which he found on eBird.

Top photo by Jane Ross, a top contributor to the popular Long Island Wildlife Photography group on Facebook. Click here for even more of Ross’s flamingo photos.

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