Richard Moore Outdoor Report: Rare Visitor Remains

Richard Moore Outdoor Report

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The rare flamingo that appeared in the Rio Grande Valley at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge nearly two weeks ago seems to have taken a liking to the place as it continues to forage along the extensive wetlands.

Standing some five feet tall with a nearly five-foot wingspan, the flamboyantly pink bird dwarfs a raft of coots feeding nearby in the shallows.

This is only the ninth documented occurrence of a wild flamingo in Texas, and the un-banded bird may be the same one that was photographed along the South Padre beach in mid-September.

This was about the same time Hurricane Nicolas skirted the Rio Grande Valley, and the bird may have arrived here as a result of the storm from a large colony in the Yucatan of Mexico some 1,200 miles south.

There are six species of flamingos worldwide, and the American or Greater flamingo is found in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America.

In 2005 a flamingo banded as a nestling in Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in the Yucatan was documented along the Texas coast and occasionally seen thru 2012.

Regardless of origin, this rare bird seems right at home strolling shallows at Laguna Atascosa. Flamingos use their feet to stir up silt and repeatedly immerse their heads to ingest algae, snails, shrimp, and crabs.

They actually twist their head to the surface so that the thick black bill is upside-down; with the tip pointing backward, and sweep their head from side to side.

You can see this unique feeding behavior up close at the flamingo pond at the Gladys Porter Zoo as flamingos use rapid tongue action to force water in and out of their slightly open bill. Comb-like plates on the bill’s edges then seine food particles from the water.

If you have ever wondered what a gathering of flamingos is called, it’s a “flamboyance,”… but you will have to head to the Yucatan to see that.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Community Stories