This isn’t a spectacular bird – easy to miss because it isn’t colorful. But boy can it belt out a powerful song. It is one of the things that I will miss most as we transition from Florida to Michigan. This is the bird that serenaded me at 2:00 am from the tree right outside my bedroom window. What a beautiful gift – for the first ten minutes but not for an hour. I have read that they will sing under nighttime yard lights – like the one on the corner of our building.
The anhinga is fascinating because, unlike other birds that dive to catch their dinner, the anhinga’s feathers don’t shed water. They are able to stay under water longer and when they swim, their body is submerged. Because their long thin neck and skinny head stick out of the water, it is also called a snakebird. I had read about them so I knew immediately what it was when I saw the “snake head” sticking out of the water at the Venice Rookery.
The first shot I was able to take was right after it surfaced to dry its feathers. It was sleek, and very wet.
The anhinga spent a long time preening and drying its feathers.
This is a male, as the female has a buff colored breast and a “salt & pepper” colored head and upper neck. I had previously posted the following picture with the great blue heron, wondering if they were youth. I now think they are anhinga females.
They frequently nest with heron and egrets, which is probably why I saw this anhinga at the rookery when there were so much nesting going on. I previously posted a black and white photograph of the anhinga. You can see the heron here and here, and the egret here.
Here are some more photographs from my trip to the Venice Rookery. It is nesting time and there was a lot of activity on the island. I think I need a more powerful telephoto lens so that I can get closer. I also learned a lot about how to get sharper images so I could have cropped these – but my learning was at the expense of this batch.
Anyway, what I didn’t notice until I downloaded these photos, are the two infants in the nest on the right. It appears that the Egret on the left is looking for some action and the one on the bottom appears to be sitting on a nest.
All seemed to be in a family frame of mind. Both males and females have mating plumage from January until early summer so I was able to see families at different stages of breeding. There were two birds sitting on branches on the other side of the pond and I was told by another visitor that they were juvenile Great Blue Herons. When I checked my Smithsonian Birds of Florida book, they didn’t match the description. I think they are juvenile Great Egrets – notice the lime green legs. Can anyone confirm this for me?
This one seems to be still looking for a mate.
There were birds that were flying down to the edge of the pond not far from where I was standing to search for just the right twigs for a nest, then would fly off to do the work. Both males & females build the nest and they look similar.
They are very impressive when they spread their wings and fly. They are 37-41 inches long with a wing span of 55 inches.
I am having great fun getting to know the birds of Florida and have a new appreciation for how much I learned about Michigan birds as I was growing up. Photography is speeding up the learning curve. It was also fun to run over to Barnes & Noble to pick out a couple of reference books – one on birds and one on shells.
Several people had told us that Snook Inn down on Marco Island is a good restaurant so we drove down last night. We were celebrating Natalia’s (our son’s significant other) birthday. We had a good seafood dinner in a very informal setting – which made it feel a bit overpriced. But the food was very good and we enjoyed our dining company. How wonderful it is to have adult children who have relationships with people we really enjoy.
One of the highlights was the pelican that was sitting and posing for us. Anyway that is what I told myself, even though his look told me he wasn’t so interested in looking down the lens of a camera.
Back to grown children and our changing family. It hasn’t always been easy – this changing family thing. For about 10 years we worked hard to enfold a spouse into our family but she didn’t know how to make it work for her. I think she was jealous of our son’s relationship with us. It was very painful before it was finally over. We never marry a person – we marry a whole family, for better or worse.
One daughter has been married for about a dozen years and we really enjoy her husband. We do a lot of sharing as his family is also important to them. Our other two children are in relationships that are, well strong. They all live in different cities but come to our house for holidays and special occasions. They feel like ours and we hope that they will eventually think of us as parents. We hope that they will get married but of course that is their decision. Natalia has two adolescent children and our love for them is growing, too. They are invited to all our family get-togethers.
I am so glad that our definition of family is flexible enough to let new people in. Our lives have been enriched by all who have touched us, even those who left a scar or two.