In 1957, Don Featherstone designed the first plastic lawn flamingo for Union Products of Leominster, Massachusetts.
A trained sculptor with a background in classical art, Featherstone created the now-ubiquitous pink flamingo based on a photo he saw in National Geographic. The flamingo ornament was one of hundreds of items he made for Union Products.
The artificial avians were first sold in twos in the Sears Roebuck catalogue – where they were described as a “full-round flamingo pair” – for the cost of $2.76.
One listing in the spring 1958 catalogue wooed potential buyers with the promise, “Lovely pink colouring forms a handsome contrast against the green of your lawn and shrubbery.”
The hollow, steel-legged bird soon became the lawn ornament of choice for taste-impaired American homeowners.
The birds briefly became extinct in 2006, when Union Products stopped producing them and went out of business due to financial woes and the rising costs of electricity and plastic resins. The birds were resurrected in 2007 when a company called HMC International bought the copyright and original moulds.
Featherstone died in June 2015. He was 79.