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Flamingo sighting on Cape Cod has bird-watchers buzzing

Fisherman may have captured first picture of wild flamingo in Massachusetts
Fisherman may have captured first picture of wild flamingo in Massachusetts 02:37

DENNIS - A fisherman in Dennis may have captured the first pictures of a wild flamingo in Massachusetts.

The man has asked to remain anonymous. He was fishing at Chapin Beach around 6 p.m. on Sunday when he spotted something in the water. The fisherman thought it was debris, so he ventured over to pick it up. As he got closer, he realized that it was a flamingo. He took out his phone and snapped several photos. Another person in a kayak came over as well. They were also in disbelief.

Interest and scrutiny  

The fisherman's wife posted the flamingo pictures onto bird watching social media groups. The thought of a flamingo in Massachusetts brought interest and scrutiny. People online began to question the validity of the photos. The fisherman opened his phone and showed the pictures to WBZ. They were still "live" photos on his iPhone and were not doctored. Another beachgoer, Sam Roth, was able to take a video of it.

The flamingo seen on a Dennis beach Courtesy photo

 "Someone posted the picture of the flamingo, so we were out and about. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to give it a shot and see what we can see," said Kirk Riker, a birdwatcher who drove from Brewster to try and spot the flamingo. "Today we didn't see anything. There is very little out there. You never know, it could be in Brewster. It could be up the line in Orleans. If it's around, it could be anywhere."

"It's weird. You do see different birds from different areas come in, but maybe he just thought he would have a good time," laughed Maureen Wiggins as she sat on the beach.

"I was in my office in Mashpee Commons, and my assistant told me she saw something on social media, so I called it an early day and came right down here," says Joe Cavanaugh while peering through his camera with an extended lens.

Previous flamingo sightings in Massachusetts  

If the animal is wild, it will be the first confirmed sighting of a wild flamingo in Massachusetts. According to the Massachusetts Audubon Society there have been three other flamingo sightings in the state.

Massachusetts Avian Records Committee records show two came in the mid-1960's. The first one was in Natick, but it was believed to be an escapee from a Westwood resident who got two flamingos from the Dominican Republic. The second sighting was on Plum Island, but there remain questions about whether it was wild or not. The third happened in 1985.

"A couple were absolutely escapes. One was a Chilean flamingo in 1985. Chilean flamingos are in high elevation lakes in the Andes," said Mark Faherty, Science Coordinator with Mass Audubon Cape Cod.

Flamingos displaced by hurricane  

Faherty believes the flamingo may be wild. Last August, Hurricane Idalia struck and displaced flamingos. There were flamingos spotted as far north as Wisconsin. Faherty says several of those flamingos are still living in Georgia. He says a flamingo was recently spotted in New York, and he thinks this may be the same one.

"When they get displaced, they become sort of refugees, and they wander around," said Faherty. "They don't turn around like, 'Wait a minute? I need to be in Mexico and go back."

Faherty says the Massachusetts Avian Records Committee will meet soon to deem if this flamingo is indeed wild.

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