The term “pink flamingo” is redundant since all of them are colored in some hue or variation of pink … except one. A black flamingo was spotted this week on the island of Cyprus and scientists believe it’s the same one seen in Israel last year, making it quite possibly the only black flamingo in existence.
The black flamingo was seen feeding with conventionally-colored counterparts on the banks of the Limassol or Akrotiri Salt Lake, the largest inland body of water on the island. It was first spotted by environmentalists doing an annual count of the island’s population.
An all-black flamingo (this one has a tiny tuft of white feathers on its rear) is much more unusual than an albino bird, according to environmentalist Pantelis Charilaou.
A melanistic individual is a very, very rare sighting … basically its the opposite of an albino when the individual produces more melanin than normal.
Pink or black, the flamingo has a long history as an unusual and sometimes mystical bird. The name comes from flamengo, which is Spanish or Portuguese for “with the color of flame.” Ancient Egyptians believed them to be symbols of the sun god Ra and they may also have given rise to the legend of the Phoenix, the flaming mythological bird whose name comes from Greek roots for “blood red-feathered.”
It’s not hard to imagine a shocking pink and red flamingo rising from the waters as the inspiration for the flaming Phoenix.
Let’s hope this unique black flamingo lives a long life in and around Cyprus and stays away from Italy, where ancient Romans once considered flamingo tongue a delicacy.