The Birds!

April 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

The first time I visited  Florida, I stopped along the way for fish dinners and look-ins at all the tourist shops with the oranges and the sand art stuff. But what I remember  most were the birds.

Great Blue Heron

While keeping on the lookout for alligators in every pond we passed, I began to see birds – Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons – I’d never seen these birds as they seldom frequent urban central Texas or western Tennessee college towns. I also saw my first Bald Eagle in the wild on that trip and Sand Hill Cranes – wonderful. These birds, up-close and personal, were fascinating!

Now, both Mom and Dad were birdwatchers. Not the “get thee to the thicket” kind, but still, they knew their birds. I learned early to identify a Mockingbird by its song and a Red-Winged Black Bird by its trill-chirp. I knew the habitat of Cardinals and Purple Finches and could spot a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on the wing. Even today I delight in soaring hawks, eagles, Eastern Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings.

Is it any wonder that Tom and I moved to Florida for retirement instead of returning to Texas – our natural habitat? Though not the only reason, the birds held a great draw for me.

All of this being said, I don’t believe in feeding wild birds. Left to their own habitat, these birds know how to find food that’s good for them. What makes me think I could do better? Just because I want to see them up close and personal? Just because I want them to hang around so I can look at them without trekking through the glades and glens? Is that fair? I think not!

When we lived in New Jersey I fed the birds, but only after the snows were too high for them to find their natural foods. Then they needed my help. But here in Florida we have no excuse. If they begin to rely on humans as their primary food source, when we’re on vacation or  “snow bird” it back north for the summer, what will these dependent birds do?

No! I say, lay off the birdfeeders. If you want to listen for birds and see them flitting about, go where they are, take a picnic and plenty of water, sit down, listen and watch.

Our Pond

Or move to Florida and live on a pond like I do!

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§ 5 Responses to The Birds!

  • How lovely to live on a pond! The joys are not confined, no doubt, to the spectacular bird-watching. Am glad you reminded us that it is far better to feed ourselves (pack a lunch for birding expeditions to their habitats) than to get a bird feeder for our backyards. Birding treks in Florida will yield views of all sorts of interesting plants, too.

    • And of course, there are all those lovely ‘gators – the four-legged kind! One of our favorite activities is the “bird” cruise – a boat launch tour of the Dead River and the Dora Canal. I once spotted a night calling heron and the tour guide stopped to take pictures. He had never seen one!!

  • kimberlee esselstrom says:

    I agree! I am obsessed with observing our backyard sand hill cranes. Watching them (from afar) teach their chicks to hunt and gather is fascinating. Watching my neighbors feed them people food, calling them from their natural habitat (the edge of the lake) just to take photos, is sad.

    • The Sand Hills in our marshes are staying close to their nests. At any moment, we expect little balls of orange feather with long legs to debut. The mating pair near us has a baby each year. There’s a couple on one of the golf courses I play that has twins about every other year. Wonderful!

  • wilma says:

    I also enjoy the huge numbers of birds we see here in FL. When I lived up north in the country, I did have a bird feeder, becuase so many of the birds suffered in the winter time, so my children and I hung suet and seed balls on the pine trees near our house for the birds to frequent during those bitter cold days.Down here it doesn’t seem necessary to help them. There is plenty of food and they know right where to find it.
    We have a pair of Egyptian Geese on our nature pond these days. An interesting pair and very distinctly marked.
    Wilma

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