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Way off course!

Chloe Allis ’25

Sep 29, 2023

Recently, two flamingos arrived in Franklin County. This is part of a larger surge of these southern birds to many northern states. Since Hurricane Idalia three weeks ago, American Flamingos have been found in ten states where they aren’t normally found. Many people wonder whether the two pink birds are mates, a mother and her young, or simply two unrelated flamingos—or “mangoes,” as Associate Dean of Students Coleman Weibley’s daughters call them.

The flamingos currently reside in Long Lane Pond in St. Thomas, ten miles from Mercersburg. The strong winds and rain that hit northern Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States during Hurricane Idalia pushed the birds north. “I think it’s scary that a hurricane pushed these flamingos all the way up from the Caribbean,” said Devin Rotz ’25. Rotz, a local resident, has been keeping up with all of the news surrounding the flamingos on various community forums. “These birds aren’t native to anywhere around here, so that’s even more crazy,” said Rotz.

Many Mercersburg Academy community members decided to visit Long Lane Pond to see the flamingos in person. Information Systems Administrator Will Dupuis has made an effort to pass by them every day on the way to work just to check up on them. “It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty unusual to see pink birds in Pennsylvania, especially big pink birds like flamingos,” said Dupuis. On one of his visits, Dupuis, a wildlife photographer, took photos of the flamingos on the water.

How are these birds adapting to the Pennsylvanian wild? Well, a snapping turtle bit one of the flamingos a few days ago. The flamingo was in fairly poor condition and was then transferred to Raven Ridge Wildlife Center (RRWC), where it received adequate medical care. The RRWC has received daily shipments of various flamingo foods and dietary supplements, and the flamingo can now walk on its own. It is expected that the flamingo will make a full recovery.  The other flamingo has remained untouched so far, but the RRWC is on standby in case of any needed assistance. Once healthy, both flamingos are expected to depart Franklin County by transport and make the trip back to Florida, where they belong.

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