Black flamingo 'melani' makes a return to Cyprus 19072022 CREDIT BFCyprus.jpg
Rare black flamingo 'Melani' amongst other flamingos in Akrotiri (Picture: British Forces Cyprus Twitter).
Cyprus

'She's back!' British Forces Cyprus' delight as world's only black flamingo returns to Akrotiri

A flamingo is RAF Akrotiri's station emblem, due to its location next to Akrotiri lake, a known winter migration post for the birds.

Black flamingo 'melani' makes a return to Cyprus 19072022 CREDIT BFCyprus.jpg
Rare black flamingo 'Melani' amongst other flamingos in Akrotiri (Picture: British Forces Cyprus Twitter).

A black flamingo – reportedly the only one in the world – has been spotted among other flamingos in Akrotiri by British Forces Cyprus.

BF Cyprus delightedly posted the image of 'Melani' to Twitter, saying: "She's back!"

A flamingo is the emblem for the RAF Akrotiri station because of its location next to Akrotiri lake, a known migration post for the winter for the usually pink and white birds.

The salt lake, marshes and cliffs of the Akrotiri peninsula play host to thousands of birds that use it as a stopover between Europe and Africa during migration seasons.

Melani, the black female flamingo, can currently be seen at the Akrotiri Environmental and Education Centre (AEEC).

BF Cyprus posted to Twitter: "Melani, who has just turned 10, has once again returned to Akrotiri. She is a black, i.e. melanistic, female Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), presumably the only one in the world!

"Great to see she is doing well! You can see Melani at AEEC."

Sightings of the rare bird have been infrequent. In 2018, the Cyprus Mail newspaper reported a sighting at Akrotiri's salt lake.

And, in 2015, there was somewhat of a worldwide media frenzy when Melani first arrived and was spotted.

 

The bird's rare plumage colour comes from a genetic condition called melanism, which causes excessive pigment to darken the feathers.

Melanism can help birds blend into their surroundings, making it a useful defence against predators for some species.

However, according to National Geographic magazine, since adult flamingos do not have many natural predators in the Mediterranean island nation, the bird's feathers could be "more bane than boon" as "too much pigment makes feathers brittle and prone to breakage".