Tag Archives: White Pelican

Sanctuaries and Sunsets.

In the afternoon of Easter Sunday, I went to see the birds at the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary again. Here are a few portraits of the resident birds, some of whom by now are old friends, like the Red-Shouldered Hawk, the Great-Horned Owl and his house mate, the Barred Owl.

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barred owl ud121The birds that are most represented among the permanent residents are the pelicans, both the White Pelicans and the Brown Pelicans. They tend to get hurt by human activity on the water. This warm day several of them were bathing in the many pools, large and small placed everywhere in their aviaries. Or preening to look their Sunday best.

brown pelican bathing ud121

white pelican closeup ud121

brown pelican closeup ud121

brown pelican preens ud121My friend the American Oyster Catcher was there too, and appeared to be doing better than last time I saw it.

american pyster catcher closeup ud121On this Sunday, several other birds were visiting their relatives at the sanctuary, like these American Black vultures.

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american black vulture ud121I also counted more than 50 nests high in the trees around the sanctuary. I believe birds feel this is a protected zone and are confident building nests in the trees around the park. Here a mama pelican peers down from her nest high up in a tall tree, and a Black-Crowned Night Heron nods off at her nest.

mama pelican in the nest 2 ud121

black-crowned night heron sleeping ud121It was a wonderful, life-affirming visit, as always.

sanctuary ud121If only the earth would be a sanctuary for all its inhabitants.

At mid-week, I enjoyed a great sunset walk on the beach with our son, who was on a business trip here on the Gulf coast.

catamaran at sunset April 18 ud121The sunset was as beautiful as ever. Shore birds were running around at the water’s edge and little sand crabs hurried into their homes for the night.

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sand crab UD121The sun disappeared into the ocean leaving a soft glow on the skies. I thought about the beautiful Irish blessing “May every sunset hold more peace.”

sunset April 18 16x9 UD121With that thought I wish you all a wonderful weekend. I will be traveling to spend time with the youngest generation of our family. It always gives me hope. Just like the Osprey chicks.

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.

juvenile-white-ibis-at-scbs-ud81

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.

american-black-vulture-3-at-scbs-ud81

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.

Bird Sanctuary. A Hospital, Rehab Facility and Last Resort Home for Injured Birds.

One day last week I was driving south along the beach and decided to make a stop at a bird sanctuary. A Ranger at our park, who is also a bird rescuer, had told me about this bird hospital/rehabilitation center and “last resort” home for injured birds. She had recently taken a Barn Owl fledgling there from our park to be nursed back to health and rehabilitated until it could manage in the wild on its own.

Gulf beach at Indian Rocks, Florida

This sanctuary sits right on the beach in a beautiful setting with lots of tall trees and tropical plants.

a bird sanctuary

I was surprised to see many healthy birds also hanging around on the beach and in the gardens on the sanctuary grounds. I saw Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Black Skimmers, Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Brown Pelicans, and Black Vultures. Maybe they had friends or family living in this home, or maybe they just felt safe there with other birds.

a black skimmer on the beach, Indian Rocks , FloridaBlue Heron on the beach a brown pelican Floridasnowy egret Floridaa black-crowned night heron Floridaan old american black vulture Florida

The sanctuary has a bird hospital, a building where the injured “patients” brought here for care and rehabilitation are housed. Most of those birds would heal, be rehabilitated and then released back to the wild.  And therefore should not get too accustomed to people – no visits allowed. The birds are brought here with many kinds of injuries, most common being injuries to the wings, legs, bill or eyes. Many caused by close contact with human operated machines, such as boat propellers. If their injuries are so bad that they will not be able to manage in the wild although otherwise healed, they have a home here for life. Like these White Pelicans.

an injured white pelican two injured white pelicans play with a stick two white pelicans play in the pool Many of them seemed to be quite happy and playful despite their permanent injuries. Some were playing with sticks, others were swimming, and yet others were incubating eggs.

brown pelican mom sits on the eggs

The babies born here will be released back into the wild when they are ready to leave their parents, and have been trained to manage independently.

But I have to tell you the story of two Blue Jays. They share a little apartment here, just the two of them. They have no external injuries. But they had been raised by humans as pets, and then just left on their own – to die. They are now adults, but have no idea how to live in the wild. One of them (below) would meow like a cat.  I’m not kidding.

blue jay raised by humans and abandoned

They have been trained, but it’s clear they will never be able to live in the wild. They don’t know how to get food. They have also left the sanctuary twice by themselves, but returned “home” both times. I don’t want to put in print what I think of people who take wild baby birds as pets, and then just abandon them.

The majority of the permanent residents are seabirds: pelicans, gulls and different kinds of herons and egrets, but there are also a few owls and hawks. This beautiful Great Horned Owl has a wing injury and is no longer able to fly.

an injured great-horned owl

I’m happy there’s a place where injured birds from a quite wide area are taken care of, and that most of them are actually rehabilitated back into life in the wild.

Thanks for coming along and have a great day.