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Florida Is For The Birds March 24, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Art & Photography, Nature.
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My writing desk overlooks a small lagoon teeming with wildlife ~ gorgeous birds, fascinating fish, and tubby turtles.  

Watching the birds, fish, turtles, and lizards often distracts me from the task of writing ~ keeping me from completing The Great American Novel, but providing fodder for short nature essays like this one. 

Let me share a glimpse through my window:  

First, there are the wood storks, gracefully soaring over the water, with black tipped wings, necks reaching forward, and bony legs pointed straight back (to steer the ship during sudden lane changes). 

In the air, wood storks are gorgeous.  On the ground, they are comical. 

As they walk on the grass at the far side of the lagoon, heads down, one following another, they resemble a line of Groucho Marx look-a-likes parading across a narrow stage, hands clasped behind their backs, rapidly walking to and fro. 

All that’s missing is the cigar.

Second, there are the flying fish, leaping out of the water to get a good look around, before diving back into the depths where they belong. 

For more, see Flying Fish and Leaping Lizards.

Of course, not all fish can fly. 

We have noticed one much-less-agile  mammoth whale of a Carp, nibbling at the grass in the shallows, growing ever larger and ever-less-likely-to-be-eaten by the birds sharing the perimeter of the lagoon with it.  

Third, there are the brown pelicans, acting like kamikaze pilots as they crash-land into the water in search of their next meal, then lazily paddle about until, with effort, they take to the skies with a rapid crashing and splashing of wings ~ like an enormous blimp attempting to take off from the middle of the ocean amidst hurricane force winds.

And, of course, there are the straight-beaked anhingas, or snake birds, constantly jutting their heads out and back, by extending and contracting long snake-like necks, as if they are attempting to clear a fish (or fish bone) lodged in their airways. 

For more on the anhingas, see:  Mmm . . . Sushi.

And the curved-billed cormorants, which land on the water, feet splayed like water skiers, and skid upon the surface before coming to a complete stop amid a soaking spray of water droplets. 

After the water-skiing event ends for the day, the cormorants (and anhingas) spend hours sitting, wings outstretched, on the banks of the lagoon, allowing their feathers to air dry in the tropical breeze.

Then, there are the Great Blue Herons, the neighborhood bullies, who raucously protest when other birds dare to enter their L-A-R-G-E personal space.  Although the Great Blues do not travel in packs, gangs, or gaggles, they have a gangsta-like reputation with other birds . . . who do their best not to intrude upon the Heron’s perceived territory as they move about the lagoon in search of their next meal.

Great Blue Herons are loners, and content to be so, unlike most of the other birds which congregate in large companionable groups, resplendent in diversity of both species and origins. 

The Ibis, with their enormous Jimmy Durante proboscis-style bills. 

The gorgeous pink Spoonbills, with their elongated spoon-shaped beaks.

The juvenile snowy egrets, wearing witch-tinted stockings of green.

The elegant Great White Egrets, with their brilliant white plumage.

We often spy massive turtles, skulking about just under the surface, as they troll for food ~ small heads and beady eyes breaking the surface of the liquid reservoir when they come up for a breath of air. 

On sunny days, the turtles heave themselves out of the water and onto the banks of the lagoon to soak up some rays, like chubby tourists littering the beach during Spring Break, arms and legs splayed across the sand.

Ducks float lazily around on the surface of the lagoon, happily quacking in laughter (quack~quack~quack) as they paddle, or angrily chastising each other for stepping out of line with rapid-fire staccato tones:

QUACK ~ QUACK ~ QUACK ~ QUACK ~ QUACK ~ QUACK ~ QUACK

On occasion, a large white pelican appears outside my window.  With smaller, more compact pouches than brown pelicans, the white pelicans tend to spend more time floating around on the surface of water, emulating graceful swans, and less time crash-landing into the water like pilots who accidentally hit the eject button.

See?  Florida really is for the birds. 

Next Post:  Why I Otter Kill You!

Comments»

1. RichardWScott - March 24, 2010

A lovely–and lively–image.

2. nrhatch - March 24, 2010

While I may never finish the Great American Novel . . . I’m enjoying the journey. : )


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