Protecting the West Indian Flamingo in the Turks and Caicos

There’s Nothing Bird-Brained About Conservation Efforts on North Caicos

The words pink flamingo evoke images of everything from colorful drinks to crazy lawn ornaments. This brilliantly coloured bird is an eye-catcher, no doubt about it. Its brilliant colour and long legs quickly command your attention. And when you step off the plane in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it’s even on the airport sign that welcomes you.

The West Indian Flamingo thrives in Flamingo Pond, an area of the Pumpkin Bluff Pond Nature Reserve which is south of Whitby on North Caicos Island. The West Indian Flamingo is one of six species of flamingo in the world. It used to flourish all over tropical America, but by the 1950’s its numbers were greatly diminished due to hunting. Conservation work done by the National Audubon Society and Bahamas National Trust brought increased population. The nature reserve program in the Turks and Caicos Islands is a similar conservation success story. The West Indian Flamingo’s numbers are now healthy.

two flamingos wading

The nature reserve on North Caicos enables the birds to avoid the consequences of human contact or worse yet poaching. In addition, regulations prohibit boats from travelling in these waters and planes from flying overhead. Because these birds are so striking and fascinating to watch, people are easily tempted to draw close and make contact. Under Turks and Caicos law, however, someone caught trying to harm these birds or their eggs will be severely fined or imprisoned up to six months.

Flamingo Pond is a very busy place. Like Providenciales Airport, there are daily arrivals and departures, only in this case, the web-footed variety.

Hundreds of these flamboyant creatures flock around the sanctuary giving tourists a terrific opportunity to see these unique birds in the wild. As this is a nature reserve, the viewing area off the road is at some distance. It’s best to take binoculars so as to get a closer glimpse of these spectacular creatures.

single west indian flamingo

These birds are remarkable in appearance. Their colours are bold and brilliant. After all, the word flamingo originates from the Latin flamma meaning flame and the Flemish flamenco or ruddy complexioned. The carotenoids derived from the animal and plant protein in their diet gives the flamingo their remarkable colors.

The Flamingo is a familiar image in the Turks and Caicos Islands. You can’t go anywhere and not come across the name. There’s Flamingo Lake, Flamingo Crossing, Flamingo Pond, Flamingo Divers and Flamingo Cafe. It’s even been featured on many of the national postage stamps.

But if you want to see more than a drawing on a sign or an impression on a stamp, make a visit to Pumpkin Bluff Pond Nature Reserve in North Caicos. Here you’ll witness all the fun, frivolity and flash of live West Indian Flamingo for yourself.
west indian flamingos

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