When you hear that a species is or was endangered, you may think of sea turtles, leopards, or something crawling around the rocks in the Galapagos. Few people think of the flamingo, and certainly not in the Bahamas.
These rosy-colored beauties have one of the longest life-expectancies in the bird universe (around 40 years or so) and enjoy hanging out around lagoons and lakes. They make for great bird-watching, and the Bahamas also provide opportunities to spot parrots, owls, herons, hummingbirds, and pelicans… if you know where to look, that is.
In the southern end of the Bahamas lies the third-largest island in the nation’s archipelago, Great Inagua — not too far from Haiti, as it turns out. As for the West Indian Flamingo, the Inagua National Park, which takes up a large portion of the island, has the largest breeding colony of them in the world; at one point the population was estimated to be around 50,000. Quite impressive, given that the human population of the island hasn’t even reached 2,000.
But the area was not always such a healthy breeding ground. Flamingos used to be a common target of hunters, and, combined with the fickle weather (read: hurricanes), at one point their very existence was threatened. They were almost extinct; talk about a comeback! This is in large part to the Bahamas National Trust, which began protecting the habitat.
Oh – and don’t be confused if you hear someone say “fillymingo” — it’s a local word!