The Hottest Celebrity in the Hamptons This Summer Is... a Flamingo

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

There’s a new figure of intrigue in the Hamptons this summer. They’re gorgeous, leggy, bright pink, already attracting the paparazzi—and may be christened “Georgie.”

A peripatetic American flamingo has taken up residence in a pond in East Hampton and is becoming a tourist attraction and object of fascination for locals in the tony New York vacation town.

“Tons of people have just been driving from everywhere to see this flamingo,” Cathy Blinken, whose in-laws live on the pond, told The Daily Beast. “Some people have stayed for hours just to watch it.”

The flamingo—whose gender is still unknown—first arrived late last month at Georgica Pond, a quiet, secluded lagoon on the western edge of East Hampton that boasts the vacation homes of Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z, among others.

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Blinken, who happens to be married to the first cousin of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, was the first person to spot it from the back window of her in-laws’ house. At first she thought it was an odd-looking swan, she said, but after zooming in using her phone camera she knew it was something much more special.

Blinken said she immediately called the local paper, the East Hampton Star.

“I just called the number and said, ‘Can you send somebody out to Georgica Pond? I cannot get a good shot of this flamingo,’” she said.

“The guy who answered the phone was like, ‘A flamingo?’” she added. “I was like ‘Yeah, a flamingo.’”

A piece ran in the Star, and the “flamingo-razzi,” as Blinken calls them, descended on the pond.

By Blinken’s count, hundreds of people have come through the small public part of the beach from which the public can view the bird. (The rest of the pond is, in true Hamptons fashion, surrounded by private homes.) Some of the visitors are wildlife experts, while some are just casual birders.

One such birder, Marie Poelker, 67, drove nearly two hours from her home on Long Island to see the bird in person. She and her husband got into birding during the pandemic, she said, and are always in search of a “lifer”—a bird they’ve never seen before in their lives.

A photo of a pink flamingo in water in the Hamptons.

A photo of a pink flamingo in water in the Hamptons.

Courtesy of Marie Poelker

“It was spectacular,” she told The Daily Beast of the moment she saw the flamingo. “The tide was low, so my husband convinced me to take my shoes and socks off and walk out to a sand dune and get closer to the flamingo without disrupting it.” She took 393 photos.

Members of two different birding Facebook groups Poelker belongs to have also been up to see the bird she said—often at 5 or 6 a.m., before a permit is required for the beach parking lot. When her daughter went two weeks ago, she said, there were already a half-dozen people on the beach.

It’s unclear exactly how the bird wound up in a ritzy beach town so far from the tropics. Shaibal Mitra, a biology professor at the College of Staten Island told local news outlet Dan’s Papers it may have been displaced by Hurricane Idalia, which hit the U.S. last August.

“One thing that we know for sure is there was a hurricane and a number of flamingos showed up in North America,” Mitra said. “There were reports of sightings in New York, Pennsylvania, and other places in the Northeast.”

More than 100 flamingos arrived in the U.S. after the hurricane, according to USA Today—either because they were physically transported by the wind or because the hurricane disrupted their habitat and caused them to move on. More than a dozen areas on the East and Gulf coasts have reported seeing the birds this summer.

A photo of a pink flamingo in water in the Hamptons.

A photo of a pink flamingo in water in the Hamptons.

Courtesy of Marie Poelker

But Emily Sundberg, who writes a newsletter about the Hamptons, talked to a local who had a different theory.

“My theory is that he escaped from a private illegal zoo,” Levi Shaw-Faber, whom Sundberg describes as a “local Georgica Pond expert,” told her. “People have everything out here—a pet flamingo would not be shocking.”

Regardless of where it came from, the bird is definitely a rarity. Despite the increase in flamingo sightings in the Northeast this year, the Georgica Pond flamingo—whom Blinken is calling “Georgie”—is the first in the state, according to Mitra. “It’s the first in a very long time, if not the first ever,” he told the Star.

The community is divided on whether to help the bird find its way home or leave it to its own devices, Blinken said. But everyone she’s talked to is happy it’s there.

“People here can complain about a a lot of stuff,” Blinken said. “But people are pretty happy about the flamingo in the Hamptons.”

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