The spring season is an exciting one in the wetlands of Florida. The natural rookeries that develop in the trees on the various “islands” of the wetlands, which are actually re-claimed waters, which supports the growth of trees, fish, and for the photographer, a wonderful place to watch the life stages of many of our south Florida birds. So, sit back, take a stretch to unwind and take in some of the sights of spring. 🙂
Always present and anticipated with excitement are the great egrets. These babies are absolutely adorable!Though they start out pretty small and gangly, with a face that only a mother could love.You’ve got to love that ‘do that they possess. Barely opening their eyes and with wobbly heads they try to sit up whenever the parent shifts a bit in the nest. They get quite frantic as well when they know that food has arrived.Before long, they begin to grow up and look like they’re an established part of the family. They seem to be quite excited when they’re in the company of both of their proud and loving parents.Life in the rookery has quite crowded quarters too. Often, little squirmishes erupt and defensive moves result … for each wants to defend their territory, nest, and of course, their young. Birds can be quite nasty to each other so it’s quite a testy time.Another bird that nested this year in the rookery was the glossy ibis. They are quite beautiful always, but especially in the spring.The parents take turns sitting on the nest and bringing in food to one another. As you can see, their nests are lower to the water, therefore it’s often not the cleanest of them all. Yuck!Nonetheless, they are successful in their mating season and they carry on with the feeding of their first hatched baby, while still incubating the remaining eggs.The most prolific birds of 2017 were the wood storks … they were seemingly the first and they were EVERYWHERE! They have the cutest young ones too … so oddly looking, but with that fuzzy white head, it’s hard not to love them.The white ibis, which is coincidentally the mascot of the University of Miami Hurricanes, is another visitor, though I don’t think that I saw many nests this year. They’re so beautiful in their breeding colors.As juveniles, they are not white, but darker or mottled until they reach maturity.A similar transformation takes place with the little blue heron. As adults, they possess dark bluish-gray feathers, however as juveniles, they’re white. As they age, they get mottled and eventually obtain their adult colors.Even while most of the rookery residents are already parents and taking care of their young, some birds, like this tri-colored heron are still looking for mates.With those fancy feather crests, beautiful blue beak, and red eye, they do their best courtship dance to attract the ladies.They are truly gorgeous in the breeding plumage.Mating season is not just for the birds either … the alligators seem to be in the mood as well.Alligators aren’t the only reptiles in the rookery environment. Case in point is the basilisk lizard, also know as a Jesus lizard, notably because of its ability to run on the surface of the water. It’s really quite fascinating to witness.One of the most beautiful birds in the rookery, in my opinion, is the purple gallinule. A medium-sized, chicken-like, marsh bird, its iridescent colors and its acrobatic skills are a thrill for all to witness.Some confuse the purple gallinule with a more invasive, non-native bird, the swamphen, but their beaks definitely tell the story … with the gallinule’s beak being blue, red, and yellow … like a piece of candy corn. LOLThe gallinule prefers to feed actively on flowers and navigates the stalks of the vegetation that the flowers bloom from.Possessing those large bright yellow feet, they wrap their long feet or “toes” around the stalks ….… and they follow the stalk down to the bloom, often it leads to the waters surface … and they grab the bloom as a tasty treat.Of course, the always gregarious red-winged blackbird is ever-present as well. I found this guy in a unique spot … sitting in the middle of a lily pad … singing away. Loved that reflection on the surface of the water too. 🙂 Yes, the life in the rookery is alive and well. Birds are thriving and insuring another generation to carry on. Life is good!Next Up: Who wants some burrowing owls?
© 2017 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography