Bird Watching up Close

We have spent a night with really good friends on Pine Island, Florida.  Joanne and Charlie spend 6 months every year at their home there, and 6 months at their OTHER home in Wisconsin.  We have  spent time with them in both places.

Joanne has a habit every evening when they are in Florida that she has done for years.  She steps outside the back door with a bowl full of chicken, or ground beef, or sausage – for the birds.  It’s never very much meat – never enough to feed them entirely, so that they still have to forage for the rest of their daily nutrition. But it’s enough that they always come.  There are an amazing number of large shore birds around here, and they know when she’s in residence.  An hour or more before the time, they start arriving on the lawn, or perch on the boathouse.  Mostly they are wood storks, but there are also egrets, an occasional great blue heron, and even pelicans sometimes.  This night, we had storks, an egret and a heron.

I stepped out with Joanne and snapped some pictures.  It was thrilling to be so close to these magnificent birds!

Waiting in great anticipation

It is the time of year the birds pair up for mating, so there were some very tender moments between some of the males and females.

Preening each other

But when the food started to fly, everybody got very active!

The heron — my favourite bird — did show up eventually.  I’ve never been so close to one before!

After the food was gone, and we went back inside, the birds stayed around. By then it was dark, and we had our dinner.  Perhaps they thought Joanne would be out again, or maybe they just liked it there.  When I got up in the night,  there was a line of 11 storks keeping watch on the roof of the boathouse, like silent sentinels.  They were gone in the morning.


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