Saturday, July 13, 2024

Flamingos in the Cays – Much-loved Floyd has a Newfound Friend

In flight.

I’ve heard folks wonder if there is still a pink flamingo living in the marshy areas south of Coronado Cays. Well, wonder no more. In fact, there are two of them now! The first one arrived in early 2018 and was immortalized by locals as “Pink Floyd” when residents started posting pictures of a solitary, albeit handsome, winged apparition on social media. There was palpable excitement amongst the locals who spotted him by bike, car, boat, stand up paddleboard, and kayak. He became an instant celebrity as photos flooded local Facebook pages. The buzz about a random flamingo making its home in the wildlife refuge in South Bay really hit a fever pitch when he was featured in the National Geographic in March 2018 as a bird of unknown origin, but likely a “renegade” from some private collection. Of course he has been loved ever since, Americans like a story of independence and freedom!

A local ornithologist, or at least a bird observer who seemed to know a lot, confirmed that the flamingo was a ‘he,’ and soon after the locals really took to calling him Floyd. Since he arrived out of the blue to much fanfare and from origins unknown, SeaWorld, the Coronado Marriott, and the San Diego Zoo were all contacted, but all stated Floyd was not theirs. However Floyd ended up in the Cays, he was now a full-time resident and the most auspicious species in the South Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

For years, he has appeared content being the lone flamingo amidst all the different birds residing here. The isolation didn’t seem to ruffle his feathers and his presence wasn’t causing hostility with the native shorebirds. In fact, he was occasionally spotted foraging with white egrets. After five years now, Floyd remained healthy-looking, and it appeared, eternally single.

Floyd and friend.

Still, avid Floyd watchers were concerned for him and wished he had a companion. Flamingos are social animals. They mate for life and normally spend most of their time in a flock.

Well stop the presses because Floyd appears to have a girlfriend! “She” was first spotted last summer, but only recently has anyone theorized that Floyd has found a female. The new flamingo is smaller and has slightly different coloring. Flamingos exhibit sexual dimorphism, where males have more colorful plumage to attract a mate, and it appears it has worked. Like Floyd, her origin is also a mystery. She was first seen in Imperial Beach at the Tijuana River Estuary. Within a few weeks of being spotted, she was seen together with our flamboyant Cays mascot.

Floyd fans were worried at first that he might follow her to a new habitat south of the border. So far that doesn’t appear to be the case. For now, the two can be spotted either in the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge or the Tijuana River Estuary depending on the time of the year; and as you read this, they are galivanting on the south side of the Coronado Cays and generally making everyone believe love is in the air. Maybe the flock is only a matter of years away?



Elsie Hammond
Elsie Hammond
Elsie is a stay-at-home mom with an MBA, managing two kids, a husband, and a mini-Aussie. She moved to Coronado Cays in 2012 with her family by way of US Navy. She has lived in the Philippines, Japan, and Hong Kong and several states in the good old USA. Elsie enjoys traveling, hiking, golfing, skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), and playing tennis. She also likes taking pictures with her iPhone and posting about them on her personal social media pages. She was a monthly contributor to Cays Living Magazine and has had several of her photos and stories published in various magazines and newspapers. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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