February 24, 2011 by wcobserver
During my birding peregrinations I recently came across a pink flamingo standing in a yard. It had been through our snow and ice. At one point it exhibited a pretty good pile of white on its back. I first looked it over with my binoculars, then with my spotting scope.
Flamingo! Wow! It wasn’t the first one I had ever seen. When I showed my friend Amy the picture included with this article, she dryly observed that global warming had advanced quite a bit when we have flamingoes right here in the land of eternal snow.
The Greater Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber, nests in the Bahamas, Cuba and in the Yucatan and is a rare visitor in Florida. But Winslow, West Fork and northwest Arkansas are not Florida, not the West Indies, and certainly not on a snowy day in February. It might as well be an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
Likely some folks have driven right by that same yard and not noticed – or so I thought. One morning I walk into the coffee shop and all eyes are upon me. It’s like they’ve been waiting. Over the years we have hashed over the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. They consider it an upland version of the Loch Ness Monster, a feathered version of Big Foot. Today they want to hear how 18 inches of snow squares with global warming. I counter with the flamingo.
When not in the coffee shop, the guys have been hauling hay to hungry cattle. They’ve cranked up the heat in chicken houses. School is closed again and the kids are home all day. Now there’s supposedly a flamingo — out in the snow, in the yard.
Global warming, like Obama care, begins and ends with the fact that, in the considered opinion at the coffee shop, Obama isn’t even an American. How could you trust him anyway? So for maybe the umpteenth time I try and explain that “global warming” is about climate, not about today’s or last week’s weather. It’s not about this winter‘s storms or last summer’s heat wave. It’s about the long term. Those who “believe” in global warming see temperatures trending steeply upward in association with our increasing use of fossil fuels.
I see eyes glazing over as I try to separate today’s weather from trends and Obama care. They came to coffee and gab, not receive quantitative data from the Audubon webpage.
I have to pony up that the flamingo stands on steel rod legs and so far as I know, no heart beats rapidly within the hollow plastic of its body. It doesn’t care if the climate is trending hotter and rising sea levels cause disruptions to world populations, mainly along disappearing coast lines. Neither does it care about cattle prices or having to haul hay in the sub zero.
Local birders have been calling it a “White-backed Flamingo.” White-backed it was — until the sun started shining.