Monday, January 01, 2007

Florida birds

This morning there were 6 or 7 white ibises, also called curlews, on the lawn beneath my apartment. On occasion I have seen as many as 30 in the same area. The variety of bird life on the Gulf Coast of Florida is one of the big attractions here. One morning while bicycling I came across a flock of green parrot-like birds flitting through palm trees --according to a local source, they are monk parakeets.

Great blue herons, cormorants,pelicans and several other types of herons, egrets, sandpipers and gulls are common in this part of the world. Rarer visitors include sandhill cranes,whooping cranes, roseate spoonbills, wood storks.

There is a great organization here called the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary whose mission it is to care for and rehabilitate injured seabirds. When possible, the birds are released again into the wild, but some are so badly injured that they must be kept on the premises at Indian Shores. The Sanctuary sits on prime seafront real estate surrounded by hotels and high rises. This year the Sanctuary is in particular need of financial support because they have received more than the usual number of injured birds. Unfortunately, some of the birds are deliberately abused by humans. The beautiful sandhill cranes that winter here and spend summers in the northern plains have been attacked on a number of occasions in Pasco County, just north of here. If one of your New Year's resolutions is to contribute more to charity or to act on behalf of animals and the environment, the Sanctuary is a worthy recipient of your largesse. I volunteered there for a few days a couple of years ago (cleaning cages, including those of vultures and hawks--yes, you have to walk into the cage with the birds)and it seemed to be a well-run organization. The Sanctuary is open to the public for free, although donations are always welcome. It is one of the few free, non-commercial attractions on this over-commercialized coast, and for that reason alone it deserves support.


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