Stormy weather forces flock to land in Cayman
High winds and heavy rains disrupted the 14-bird flock, believed to be migrating from Cuba.
“We suspect that they are Greater Flamingos from Cuba who got caught in the storm over the weekend and tried to land in Malportas Pond. Unfortunately, five of them didn’t make it,” said Department of Environment research officer Jessica Harvey.
Flamingos are not often seen in Cayman, she said.
“Flamingos have stopped in the Cayman Islands every couple of years, normally after a bad storm. [They] don’t normally stop here on their migratory route, but it’s nice to see them once in a while,” said Ms. Harvey.
While it is unclear where the final destination of the flock will be, the hope is that the nine remaining flamingos will “rest and eat enough to continue on their journey OK,” said Ms. Harvey.
DoE officials estimate that the birds landed in Cayman either Saturday night or early Sunday.
The five dead birds were found by DoE officers on the roadside in North Side on Sunday, which prompted an investigation into the cause of death. Animal abuse suspicions were ruled out after a motorist reporting a sighting of birds spread out approximately 40 yards apart on the road earlier Sunday, at around 6:30 a.m. DoE officers and handed over the dead birds to Veronica Boling, a pathologist at St. Matthews University, who performed a necropsy on Monday. The cause of death has not yet been determined, according to DoE staff.
“We hope to determine the cause of death as we couldn’t tell initially looking at them whether they were electrocuted or died from impact to the ground or both,” said Ms. Harvey.
Although the migration route of the flamingos is unknown, Ms. Harvey said Tuesday that one of the birds had been tagged. She said DoE staff were contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to identify the flock’s prior location.
Later on Sunday, environment officers also found a dead Great Blue Heron in South Sound with similar injuries.
“I collected the bird, kept in on ice overnight and gave it to Veronica [Boling] the following day to necropsy along with the flamingos as it is likely that this bird also died in a similar fashion,” Ms. Harvey said.