Behold, a sea of pink flamingos in Mumbai

May 5, 2020, 1:38 p.m.
Flamingos on a lake in Mumbai.
Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

In Mumbai, flamingos are taking advantage of the human hiatus — and painting the city pink.

Tens of thousands of the birds were spotted this week congregating on ponds throughout India's largest city.

While flamingos looking to feed and breed typically wing their way to the region this time of year — a record 134,000 touched down in the region last year, according to CNN — this pink congregation may set a new record.

As many as 150,000 flamingos may touch down in the area, Rahul Khot of the Bombay Natural History Society tells the news agency. And it may have a lot to do with the fact that people are mostly staying indoors these days.

"They are being reported from places where they have earlier been reported less in number because there is no human activity there now," Khot says.

Indeed, India's coronavirus lockdown — restricting the movement of some 1.3 billion people — is the world's largest. And it's had a dramatic impact not only on wildlife, but also air quality.

Flamingos are also finding their way to places where they were once all-too rare. The region's wetlands are also taking a turn for the pink. The birds are not only a crucial link in the ecological chain, they may also play a role in improving water quality, reports Phys.org.

It isn't the first instance of wild animals moving into places where humans have retreated from in these pandemic times. With a third of the human population experiencing lockdown measures and staying home, we've seen everything from deer on Japanese city streets to dolphins cavorting in Italian ports. Even Yosemite's bears are basking in our absence.

"Residents are cooped up at home spending their mornings and evenings at their balconies taking photographs and videos of these relaxed birds," Mumbai resident Sunil Agarwal tells the Hindustan Times. "The lockdown will at least prompt people to focus on what is around them, which they had been taking for granted, and hopefully this site will be declared a flamingo sanctuary soon."