Friday, December 15, 2006

Pale Male II And Other Stories

There are pink flamingos in Texas - and I'm not talking about the plastic ones either. This report from the Corpus Christi Caller-Times notes that a pale pink flamingo showed up in January at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, disappeared for several months, and recently returned along with another out-of-place flamingo, a dark pink one from the Yucatan. Turns out the pale male is an escapee from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, home to three dozen African flamingos (more about that here). The article has got some interesting graphics, including photos of the cute pink pair and a map showing the path that brought them to the refuge.

Also in the news is this story from The Journal News about a black swan (Cygnus atratus) appearing at Peach Lake, New York. Black swans are native to Australia, and do not migrate, so this wanderer is assumed to be an escapee from someone's private exotic animal collection.

Interested readers will want to check out Floyd the Utah Flamingo, and also this ISW post about odd birds spotted in the UK.


Kevin said...

The flamingo invasion is interesting. Apparently flamingos were common at the Great Salt Lake and other lakes in the mountain west some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. These populations apparently diminished with the arrival of Native Americans.

You have a post on the Friends For Floyd thing. The argument of this site is that Pink Floyd was not as much an invasion of a new species, but was the re-introduction of a species that was made extinct by the actions of man.

I really did not buy the argument. But it is an interesting argument. There is a legitimate question of at what point the re-introduction of a species into an environment should be called an invasion. Was the doings at Juarasic Park an invasion of dinosaurs, or simply the re-introduction of a native species?

The current idea seems to be that the environment as it existed prior to the coming of the whiteman was a state of perfection. Many of our problems exist because Europeans immigrants wanted to make the world like Europe. Of course the very sentiment that the environment as it existed when Europeans arrived is itself Eurocentric in a perverse way.

Jenn said...

You raise some interesting points, Kevin.

I am not so worried about an errant flamingo showing up where the species hasn't been seen in 8000+ years, unless flamingos start negatively impacting the environment, or are vectors for disease.

Can we all agree on a benchmark to categorize native/non-native species? Doubtful. The real question is: Do we need to? These cases tend to be the exception to the rule and I would hate to see them being used to support the "let nature happen" way of if humans weren't impacting nature every day.

Also, let's be frank here - if we were talking about something less charismatic than a (pink!) bird, chances are the human interest in protecting such an arrival would be minimal.