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