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Flamingo Frenzy: Rare Sightings Thrill Nature Lovers at Shell Key Preserve!

a bird standing on a beach
Nestled along Florida’s picturesque Gulf Coast, Shell Key Preserve has long been a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife alike. Our clear kayak tours normally see plenty of dolphins, manatees, and playful cormorants who dive under or swim beside our see-through boats. Recently, however, the tranquil shores of the preserve have witnessed an unexpected and delightful phenomenon: flamingo sightings!

These vibrant, long-legged birds, known for their distinctive pink plumage and elegant posture, have been captivating lucky visitors to Shell Key Preserve in recent weeks. While flamingos are native to Florida, they largely disappeared from the state at the turn of the 20th century due to overhunting for their gorgeous plumage. Now, after Hurricane Idalia, hundreds of flamingo sightings have been reported all over Florida!

a bird standing on a beach near a body of water

For those fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures, it’s been a sight to behold. Shell Key Preserve, with its pristine beaches, seagrass beds, and mangrove islands, provides a perfect backdrop for these unexpected visitors. Kayakers and birdwatchers have flocked to the area, binoculars and cameras in hand, hoping to catch a glimpse of these pink wonders. Our expert guides have been able to capture some fantastic shots of these birds as they lead clear kayak tours that stop near the sandbar that the flamingos are flocking to. In fact, all photos on this blog post are actual photos of the flamingos at Shell Key Preserve!

a group of people rowing a boat in a body of water

The presence of flamingos in Shell Key Preserve serves as a reminder of the incredible biodiversity that can be found in Florida’s coastal ecosystems. These sightings are also a testament to the importance of preserving and protecting our natural spaces. As stewards of the environment, our guides continue to educate and inform guests about both our native and migratory visitors and how to safely and responsibly catch a glimpse of the flamingos.

While these flamingos have been displaced from Cuba and the Caribbean by Hurricane Idialia, organizations such as Audubon Florida have scientists monitoring the birds for any signs of stress or duress. So, if you’re planning a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the enchanting flamingos of Shell Key Preserve – a rare and beautiful sight that reminds us of the wonders of the natural world.

a bird sitting on top of a sandy beach



  • Keep your distance from the flamboyance (or flock)! Flamingoes are wild birds, and running through them or harassing them will cause them to flee. This can cause stress and in extreme cases, cause flamingos to starve. Flamingos feed by standing in shallow water and drumming up shrimp and small marine life with their long legs so these birds need to stand in groups to feed effectively.
  • If you spot an injured or ill bird, call FWC or Seaside Bird Sanctuary, don’t try to approach! By keeping your eye on the injured bird while making the report, you can directly help conservation officials by providing the most accurate location information. Only intervene if officials give you the go-ahead.
  • Take only photos, leave only footprints. When you visit Florida beaches in search of flamingos, make sure not to leave any plastic or trash behind! Beach litter threatens shoreline birds’ safety, since it can be accidentally ingested by birds or entangled around their legs and feet.
  • When in doubt, ask! Our guides are trained on safe wildlife viewing practices. If you’re not sure about something, ask your tour guide. They love to share what they know, and maybe a few flamingo fun facts along the way!