There are many types of birds that covet the city of Madison — and almost seem to dominate the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus at times — but the type of bird that one would not really expect to find this far north is a flamingo. But in the fall of 1979, a “flock” of this pink tropical bird did indeed make an appearance on the UW campus. At the hands of student government pranksters, the Pail and Shovel party, hundreds of plastic pink flamingos were placed all over Bascom Hill. The party conducted this well-known prank as a part of a campaign promise, but many of the birds were stolen from Bascom Hill and ended up all over the city of Madison.
Despite criticism, it seems that today the infamous pink flamingo prank is somewhat celebrated. Postcards and other such memorabilia are sold online and at local Madison stores.
The tradition was revived in 2013 when 1,4000 flamingos covered Bascom Hill once again as part of the university's annual fundraising campaign; alumni made a total of 640 gifts and pledges to UW-Madison for a total of $110,000.