Hello World! Reporting Live from the Seabird Sanctuary.

The Great Horned Owl, Miss Kitty, is alert and follows my movements in front of her little house with keen interest. This owl, whose badly infected wing had to be amputated, has been living at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary for over nine years. She is usually one of the first birds to greet me when I visit. Her closest neighbor is another long-time resident, a Barred Owl. She is huddling deep in thought close to the ceiling of her little row house, and unlike her neighbor she clearly prefers her own company. And I respect that.

Next, I am checking on some of the White Pelicans. They have a large netted home with several swimming pools to enjoy in the summer heat. While autumn is officially here, our temperatures are still hovering in the upper 80s F (around 30C).

white-pelicans-at-scbs-ud81The Brown Pelicans have a home next to their white cousins, and their ‘yard’ is also appointed with several pools. Just chilling around the pool seems to be a favorite activity.

brown-pelican-scbs-ud81Next to the pelicans, two Sandhill Cranes have their large, beautifully decorated home.

two-sandhill-cranes-ud81Some smaller birds, like a juvenile White Ibis and an American Oyster Catcher with a badly injured wing, share the neighboring homes.


wounded-oystervatcher-at-scbs-ud81But to be honest, I came here to see an old friend, the Red Shouldered Hawk. Her name is Isis. I will need to point out that this beautiful bird was named 26 years ago when she first came to this sanctuary with a badly injured eye. She is close to 30 years old now, completely blind in one eye and almost blind in the other. To my delight I discover that her handler has just arrived to take her out for a ‘walk’ in the park. Great! So after greeting the other birds, I walk into a large covered area under the observation tower and find her perched there.

scbs-observation-tower-ud81I love watching her and it is clear that she thoroughly enjoys her open air outing. But I also want to take a few pictures of her. And that proves quite challenging. While the covered area is nice and shadowy,  the sun is very bright right outside of it.

red-shouldered-hawk-at-scbs-ud81Isis is still molting and she is preening diligently to get rid of some old feathers on her wings.

red-shouldered-hawk-molting-scbs-ud81And then she stretches her beautiful wings. I can sense she is dreaming of flying high up in the sky riding a cool current.

red-shouldered-hawk-2-at-scbs-ud81She has had a long, safe and comfortable life here at the sanctuary and it is wonderful, as always, to spend some time with her.

Walking out of the sanctuary I meet two non-residents, an American Black Vulture and a Black-crowned Night Heron. Perhaps they have relatives in rehabilitation here, or maybe they are just waiting for a free meal. I also note that the night heron is strategically positioned to remind visitors of the importance of donating to this unique sanctuary.


black-crowned-night-heron-at-scbs-ud81It is lovely to know there is a place where so many injured wild birds can get help. About 15-20 birds daily, or up to 5000 each year, are brought to the Dr. Marie L. Farr Avian Hospital located in this sanctuary. They have varying injuries, for example to their limbs, eyes or bills.

sun-coast-sea-bird-sanctuary-ud81Unfortunately about 90% of those injuries are directly or indirectly attributtable to human activity. After receiving the necessary hospital care, the birds are rehabilitated and then released. The success rate is fairly high, over 80% of the birds who survive the first 24 hours go back to live their lives in the wild. Those who cannot manage to live on their own due to a permanent handicap are provided a forever home here. I am always filled with gratitude thinking of all the volunteers who take care of these birds and keep their homes looking wonderful, and people who donate to keep this sanctuary going.

That’s all for tonight from the Seabird Sanctuary. Next, your reporter will take on the replacement of the osprey nest platform at the salt marsh. We don’t want Mama Sandy and Papa Stanley to move out just because their home falls apart, do we?

We all hope your week is going great.

53 thoughts on “Hello World! Reporting Live from the Seabird Sanctuary.”

    1. It is always inspiring to visit this hospital & sanctuary – their staff and volunteers do such good work. Every released bird is a small victory 🙂

    1. Thank you, Hien. This place always looks impeccable when I visit – all the ‘bird homes’ are neat and clean with appropriate facilities for each type of bird. The birds that cannot be released back to the wild live a comfortable and safe life here.

    1. Thanks Brad. There are several good cameras just under or at $500. I am a ‘Canon girl’ and while I now have two high-end Canons, I still love my old “bridge camera” with superzoom (24-1200mm), a Canon SX50HS. I still use it on my hikes when I do not want to carry a heavy bag with several lenses. That model is still on the marked at about $300, and the newer model SX60HS can now be found at or even just under $500. If you want a camera where you can change lenses, the Canon EOS Rebel series has a few great cameras that you can get at or under $500 (T6 and SL1 for example).

    1. Miss Kitty has huge eyes for sure! She got her name when she came to the sanctuary because she used to hiss like a cat when the volunteers would come to clean her house 🙂

    1. Yes, this is a place with a great mission. And although many birds live there forever, it’s an inspiring place to visit. Each release back into the wild is a small victory 🙂

    1. So true Hariod. We have taken over so much of their habitats that accidents are prone to happen. They do such good work in rehabilitating many birds back into the wild.

  1. Thanks Tiny for taking us through this wonderful facility, it is so good that people are dedicated to saving our wildlife and restoring the injured. Love your photos. That’s the great treat of zoos and places like this, you can sometimes get great close up shots. Your American Oyster Catcher is very similar to our Pied Oystercatcher, if not almost identical.except ours is blacker. Have a wonderful weekend, I am exhausted, and have a massive next few days ahead.

    1. Happy you enjoyed the pictures of these precious birds, Ashley. I visit 2-3 times a year to see these birds and to give my small contribution. That Oyster Catcher had a companion there too, but I didn’t get a picture of him. I hope you can get some rest over this weekend.

  2. What an amazing service offered by the sanctuary. As I read your post, as if on cue, the Canadian geese honked their farewells to me as they begin their migration. I do love the sound of geese flying by!

  3. What a fantastic sanctuary for these birds, Helen. I’m amazed at how long Isis has lived there. That must be quite a record for longevity. I see that in the wild, Red-Shouldered Hawks only live for just over two years. All your photos are so gorgeous. 🙂 Happy weekend to you. xx

    1. Isis is now VERY old for a R-S Hawk, even for having lived in captivity, but she didn’t look tired to me. However the handler, a wonderful woman who’s been taking care of her for over 20 years, told me that molting now takes more of Isis’ energy than it used to, that she in fact had lost a little weight. Thank you Sylvia and have a great weekend. XX

  4. What a delight, Helen, to see, and be a part of, this wonderful work re-building lives. It really does take a ‘village’.
    I’m smitten with Isis, too; her colours are gorgeous.
    From your green Aussie friend… Thank You for sharing; it really is a treat! 🙂

    1. Happy you enjoyed the visit to these beautiful birds, Carolyn! Always when I visit, there’s a ‘village’ of volunteers working to make it the best possible home for these permanent residents, and another crew in the hospital caring for the sick/injured ones. That part is not open for public, of course. One day I am hoping to witness a release too, althouh very few releases are done right there at the sanctuary – most birds are released back to nature close to where they were found so that they can find their way back ‘home’ 🙂 XOXO

    1. It was great to see how well my ‘old friends’ were doing. This is the same place where the little Sandwich Tern, whom I found last year at the salt marsh with a fishing hook tangled in her cheek, came for surgery. She did recuperate very well and was released in a couple of days ❤ Have a wonderful weekend, Val.

    1. It was great that my visit again coincided with Isis’ outing. She is such a beautiful bird. And yes, Miss Kitty is a hoot. She got her name as a newbie there for many years ago because she used to hiss like a cat when staff came to clean her row house 🙂 She’s now used to all that and very curious about all the visitors.

  5. Wow, Tiny! I love the portrait of the black vulture and Miss Kitty’s eyes are stunning! All these pictures are wonderful.

    I, too, am grateful there is a place where so many injured wild birds can get the help they need and a chance to live as comfortably as possible with their disabilities. It’s the least we can do for them since it’s our activity that causes most of their injuries.

  6. I’m sorry for the absence – so much going on! It’s always wonderful to be back and find your posts, Tiny! I fell in love with the owl pictures. 🙂 Hope life is treating you well. Have a great week.

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