The unusual bird was spotted April 8 in a salt lake on the island of Cyprus during an annual flamingo count. It’s a melanistic flamingo, a normally pink bird with an overabundance of melanin. Melanism is the opposite of albinism, a condition where there is no melanin. Not entirely black, the flamingo sports a tuft of white tail feathers.
Only one other black flamingo has been reported, that one in Israel in 2014. While the speaker in the video below, Pantelis Charilaou, head of the environmental department of the British Sovereign Bases, speculates the one on Cyprus might be a second bird, other reports have suggested it could easily be the same bird, since Greater Flamingo flocks are known to travel long distances.
Audubon Society field editor Kenn Kaufman said, “Other strange cases of all-black feathers have been observed in birds from owls to woodpeckers to herons. The condition seems to be most common in a few hawk species, as well as jaegers, and some seabirds.” But “I don’t know of any other cases of melanism in flamingos.”