Binoculars or a long lens (600mm) can give you a closer look at the delicate green heron, quietly perched on a branch at the water’s edge, enjoying the morning sun. A few yards away, we are quiet and careful not to disturb him.
There are many reasons to love the Pileated Woodpecker. First, you notice its brilliant red crown feathers and the red, black and white plumage, which would be a striking way to dress yourself today. Second, you can observe its impressive ability to steady itself vertically way up high in an old tree or utility pole. Then, you may marvel at its ability to hunt for food or carve out a nest by tapping its beak into the wood like a hammer 10 to 20 times per second. How can its head withstand all that impact?
Lastly, you may like the woodpecker for these traits you would admire in a human: it is non-migratory, inhabiting the same territory for its lifetime. It chooses and is loyal to a single mate. It benefits many other bird and mammal species in its environment, as song birds, owls and even raccoons later inhabit the old tree holes that the woodpecker has carved out for its nests.
And here is a mixed blessing. That pileated woodpecker in your backyard may be giving you some free advice: that dead tree needs to come down.
After breakfast, at low tide and warmed by the sun, these white pelicans decided conditions were perfect for a morning nap. Until one male pelican arrived and cried out to all of them, “Wake Up!”
The J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on Sanibel Island, Florida is a wonderful place to observe the White Pelicans, Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbills in the winter months.
These White Pelicans can fly and float anywhere they like, but they all seem pretty happy to crowd onto a tiny sandbar, wing to wing with one another. This image shows only a third of the line of white pelicans gathered at J.N. Ding Darling Nature Preserve on a sunny Sunday morning.
I was lucky to have my camera focused on this Tricolor Heron when the Great White Egret landed alongside and began to intimidate him. The egret scared the daylights out of the heron, and the heron’s crown feathers stood up on end! I captured a series of photos of the interaction, but the heron appeared a tiny bit blurred in some of the photos, because he was running from fear. I’m not sure if the egret wanted the heron’s fishing spot, but I have seen these egrets get aggressive with each other. Drama in the life of a wading bird! And so early in the morning! It was fun to witness and capture these images.
Funny how it works. In our human culture, the females wear the jewels, curl and color their hair and purchase sparkly, provocative dresses — all an effort to be noticed by the right male. In the bird kingdom, it’s just the opposite. The females wear camouflage (dull) colors so they can protect the young in the nest, while the males get dolled up in breeding plumage to attract a mate.
If I were a painter of an angel’s wings, I would imagine the ethereal wings of angels to resemble those of the Great White Egret in flight.