Save the plastic flamingos

Alabama Living Magazine

By Hardy Jackson

Illustration by Dennis Auth

In recent years a lot of attention has been paid to saving endangered species around the world.

I am all for that.

In fact, I will go one step farther and come out in favor of adding to the list one that hitherto was not listed. 

The plastic pink flamingo.

Once they thrived along the Gulf Coast.  It was their natural habitat. There they sat all summer in sun, wind, and rain – slowly fading until past Labor Day when – bent, battered, and bleached out – they were tossed into the trash. 

Come next year, a new flock appeared and the cycle began all over again. 

Only now, no more. The cycle has been broken, the natural order of things disrupted, and the plastic pink flamingo is threatened.

As someone who tries to stay on top of what is popular down in Dixie and what isn’t, I suspect that plastic pink flamingo is falling victim to a shift in southern tastes that is marked by a rejection of the crass and tacky in favor of the tasteful and sophisticated.

The best place to test this theory is down in the condo-canyons on the Gulf Coast. 

In recent years the beach cottage and house trailer yards where plastic pink flamingos flourished have been slowly and steadily replaced by high rise condos and mini-mansions. 

Now ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a plastic pink flamingo out by the condo pool or in yards of houses behind the gates of the guarded, gated communities – assuming they would let you in to look?

Not recently. Condo and community code-enforcers keep ‘em out.  

So, I ask you, where are the protests? 

Why aren’t the people who were moaning and groaning over how these developments are threatening beach mice just as upset over how these developments are destroying the plastic flamingo’s natural habitat?

Where is the government when we need it?  

If the government, yours and mine, can regulate everything from outhouses to asphalt, why can’t those regulators tell developers that every development must have a plastic pink flamingo paddock in its plans – a prominent place where they can be seen and appreciated.

By us, and our children after us.  

Write your representative.

Harvey H. (Hardy) Jackson is Professor Emeritus at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at


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