Flamingos flown north for the winter


This is not a drill!

Forget everything I ever said about my dubious relationship — or lack thereof — with nature. There are pink flamingos in Ohio. Again, this is NOT A DRILL!

If I could host actual flamingos in my yard in the Buckeye State I would DIE OF HAPPINESS. They’re probably mean. Are they mean? I am honestly not sure. I’ll Google that in a minute.

You could tell me flamingos are actually vicious killers, and I would still want to see them. I have never liked them as home decor (my deepest apologies to the 1950s) but I am fascinated with them as actual living creatures. The colors. The majesty. Standing casually on one leg (please let that be true).

According to published reports, wildlife officials believe the flamingos arrived in the Cincinnati area after Hurricane Idalia struck in the southern area of the United States. Per the Columbus Dispatch, “three days after landfall, flamingo sightings had been reported in Alabama, South and North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.” There have been over 150 flamingos sighted over a period of four days.

Further reports are that “the flamingos incited a frenzy in the birding world.” I adore that turn of phrase. As a newly minted member of the “birding world,” I understand.


I feel like bird watching is something I had zero interest in until I reached a certain age. For years, I felt they were disgusting, honestly.

A necessity, for certain. They eat worms and perform other birdly duties. I am not saying they aren’t useful. How would we know winter was coming if not watching them fly south? I am just saying I didn’t want them anywhere near me.

A bird got into our house once. I reacted like we had a velociraptor in the attic. Now, I find myself standing on the porch sipping my coffee while trying to decide if I’m hearing a red winged blackbird or an American robin.

Perhaps it’s genetic? My great-grandmother loved birds. She had bird figurines. She had bird prints. She had bird music boxes. She favored cardinals. Her sister favored robins. I don’t know how old they were when they chose sides and made allegiances in the bird world, but that memory has stuck with me even three decades after both are gone.

I’m partial to cardinals, of course, but I also have a real soft spot for blue jays. I like their attitude. Who am I?

A decade ago, I had no idea about birds. I still have almost no idea, but I’m far more interested. I have bird books now. Antique. The books, not the birds. I assume birds have not changed significantly since the mid-20th century so my grandmother’s books are still serviceable. I’m interested in birds but not enough to buy new books. Let’s not talk crazy.


I have not spotted a flamingo in our area of the Buckeye State, but with our cooling temperatures as autumn arrives, I have concerns.

A Midwestern autumn offers a nice mix of wintry cold interspersed with 80-plus-degree days because we like to keep things interesting.

If the flamingos are like the rest of my Florida family and friends (kisses!), they are going to freeze to death if it drops below 75 degrees. Like, the National Guard should airlift them to safety if the windchill drops below 60 degrees for certain.

With this in mind, do the misguided flamingos need sweaters? Parkas? Tiny knitted hats? An airline ticket home? Take Southwest, not Spirit — trust me on this.

If they choose to remain in Ohio, they are going to need guidelines. Someone needs to explain to the flamingos that a water-filled pothole is NOT an actual body of water suitable for fowl — although in many instances the sizes are virtually the same.

Instead, they should be shuttled to the Great Lakes. Did you know that the Great Lakes are the largest fresh bodies of water on earth? Lake Erie, Superior, Huron, Michigan and Ontario span 750 miles in from east to west.

Also, they probably already have an edge on doing that whole “arms up, make an “O”” thing to spell out O-H-I-O in silhouette. The one-legged trick is tailor-made for it.

Finally, if they do decide to take leave of our fair state, they will need to know the official midwestern way to say goodbye. It starts with “welp, I guess it’s time to get going.” Then, you stand around (one leg or two, your choice), throw around some handshakes and hugs, inch toward the exit (or state line as the case may be), continue chatting, more hugs and handshakes, move on to waving …

Honestly, by the time they get around to actually working through a whole midwestern goodbye, the warm weather will return.


Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.