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'A rare bird sighting': 2 flamingos spotted in Warren County; here's how they got here

Beachgoers saw a pink and grey juvenile flamingo over the weekend
Flamingos at Caesar Creek State Park
Posted at 6:22 PM, Sep 05, 2023

WAYNESVILLE, Ohio — A tropical bird made a pit stop in Ohio.

Two flamingos were spotted at Caesar Creek State Park Beach over the weekend. Park officials say they were in the area for a few hours and then took off.

“There was an older one who was pink and then there was a gray one and they say that was a juvenile, a little bit younger. He just had a little bit of pink on him,” said Caesar Creek State Park Manager Tiffany DeChant-Hunt. “Seeing a flamingo in Ohio is a rare bird sighting."

Dechant-Hunt said they didn’t even know flamingos were in their park until people called them. She said some people drove from Cleveland to see them.

“As word spread, more people came. Our naturalist came in and she helped people and kind of protected the birds a little bit from the crowd,” she said.

Jeannette Walker has visited the beach twice in three days hoping to see tropical birds.

“We heard about the flamingos so we wanted to see if we could spot them,” Walker said. “Pretty unusual, that’s why we were going to take that opportunity to try and catch a glimpse of them.”

Walker didn’t see the flamingos, but other people were able to capture the moment.

Aaron Shirk snapped a few pictures before they took off.

“It was pretty surreal to have flamingos in Ohio, even more so to have the opportunity to photograph them,” Shirk said.

Flamingos at Caesar Creek State Park
Flamingos at Caesar Creek State Park

George Keller also took some photos.

“It was shocking to see flamingos in Ohio. I was excited to know that I was documenting something special for the birding community,” Keller said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources believes the birds flew into Ohio because of Hurricane Idalia. An ODNR spokesperson said they don’t have any other record of flamingos in Ohio.

Cincinnati Nature Center Director of Conservation Cory Christopher said he was skeptical when heard flamingos had landed in Ohio.

“Immediately, I thought, 'I wonder if somebody’s pets got out,' because people do keep sometimes exotic birds as pets. But then you started to see them pop up in other places in the Carolinas, further north than they should be,” Christopher said. “Caesar Creek, we’re just one of those places. Once you start hearing multiple locations then you got to think something else is going on.”

Even though they are off course, Christopher said the flamingos will be able to find their way home. He said birds have a metal compound in their brains that allows them to navigate with the magnetic fields.

“If they got swept up here because of the hurricane, which signs are pointing to that’s probably what happened, they probably took a couple of days as a breather, and then they realized where they were. They knew they were way off course and they were able to right themselves to get back where they needed to go,” he said.

DeChant-Hunt said the tropical birds haven’t been spotted in a couple of days, but she’s hopeful everyone who came to the beach for the flamingos will come back for the park.

“Well, hopefully, people come and see the beauty of the area. I mean this is gorgeous, you know, and there’s a serenity when you’re out here isn’t there? You can feel it. We hope that when people come out and they see how close we are to their community that they’ll just keep coming back,” she said.

The lake’s beauty is what brought Walker and her grandson back.

“We noticed the beautiful beach and thought we would come back and visit the beach on a nice warm day,” said Walker. “It’s very nice and certainly my grandson is having a good time. He’s enjoying playing in the sand, so it's definitely worth the trip.”

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