Plastic Lawn Flamingo

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Common Name: Plastic Lawn Flamingo
Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus festuca plasticus

Size: 52 inches (132cm)

Habitat: North America; in the southern United States and in the west (primarily Los Angeles). Found on suburban lawns.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 1,000,000+. The persistent threat of the change in cultural tastes may someday bring this species closer to extinction.

Diet: Unknown. Lawn Flamingos do not appear to feed.

Nesting: Lawn Flamingos do not nest; they rely on companies such as Union Products for their reproduction.

Cool Facts: The history of the pink flamingo can be traced back to 1946 when a company in Leominster, Massachusetts called Union Products started manufacturing products they titled “Plastics for the Lawn”. Their original collection included two dimensional dogs, ducks, frogs, and even a flamingo.

In 1956, the company hired a young designer named Don Featherstone. Don's first project was to redesign their popular duck into the third dimension. Don used a live duck as his model and after five months of work, the duck was retired to a local park.

His next project would prove to be his most famous. He couldn't get his hands on real flamingos, so he used photographs from a National Geographic in its place. He sculpted the original out of clay, which was then used to make a plaster cast. The plaster cast, in turn, was used to form the molds for the plastic. The original design called for detailed wooden legs, but they proved to be too costly and were replaced by the metal ones still seen today. While the exact date was never recorded, the first pink flamingo was born some time during 1957.

Since then it has become an icon of pop culture, and won Don Featherstone an ig Nobel Prize for Art in 1996.

After the release of John Waters's 1972 movie “Pink Flamingos”, plastic flamingos came to be the stereotypical example of lawn kitsch.

Many imitation products have found their way onto front lawns and store shelves since then; those "official" pink flamingos made by Union Products from 1987 (the 30th anniversary of the plastic flamingo) onward can be identified by the signature of Don Featherstone located on the rear underside of the flamingo. These official flamingos were sold in pairs, with one standing upright and the other with its head low to the ground, "feeding". Union Products, of Leominster, Massachusetts, stopped production of pink flamingos on November 1, 2006. However, HMC International LLC, a subsidiary of Faster-Form Corporation, purchased the copyright and plastic molds of Featherstone's original plastic flamingos in 2007, and will be resuming production of them in Westmoreland, New York.

In a famous 1979 prank by the Pail and Shovel Party, then controlling the Student Government Association at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the slope of Bascom Hill was covered with over 1000 plastic flamingos the morning of the first day of classes. The book “If at All Possible, Involve a Cow: The Book of College Pranks” used a photo of the flamingoes on its cover. In 2009, the city of Madison, Wisconsin Common Council designated the plastic flamingo as the city's official bird.

Found in Songbird Remix Flamingos

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