I made a road trip back to the bird rookery in north Tampa in late March. The noise was so loud from all of the baby birds screaming to be feed. The little spoil island in the pond was full of babies. Although this great egret above looks like he’s still flirting.
There were baby egrets from just a few days old to several weeks old.
The tricolored herons were still sitting on eggs.
This Mom was shading her baby wood storks from the sun.
This was the youngest wood stork baby I could see and it had a tiny fish in his beak.
This Mom had no rest with all of these babies.
It looks like the older baby got the big fish this time. It took him a while to get it down.
Great egrets were still bringing sticks back to the nests.
The baby muscovy ducks I had seen here weeks ago were almost grown now.
A juvenile night heron sits alone at the front of the rookery. He’s been there on my last 2 visits. They nest deep in the bushes so I can’t see them as little babies.
A snowy egret still flirting.
The cormorants and anhingas nest high up inthe cypress trees so it’s a little harder to see those young babies. As they get older the bigger babies end up down on the rookery and Mom feeds them there. The top one is a cormorant. They have orange curved beaks and hook their fish. The middle shot are both anhingas (male on the left in all black and the female on the right has a brown chest and neck). They have pointed beaks and stab their fish. The juveniles with the great egret in the bottom shot are both anhingas.
A female grackle getting some bugs. They also nest deep in the bushes.
A wood stork getting a drink in the pond.
I saw a tricolored heron fly over to the top of a tree away from the rookery. She’s got food in her beak and she’s trying to get her young one to fly over to be fed. She was yelling at the baby to fly across the pond to her to get food instead of her bringing it to the baby.
The baby eventually flew over and got his meal.
All of the tricolored heron babies that I saw were almost fully grown. They all had their adult colors in their feathers but they still had those baby spikes on the top of their heads and were still squawking for food.
You don’t see many glossy ibis in the Tampa Bay area. For years the only place I saw them was at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland but in recent years I’ve seen a few on this side of the state. Lettuce Lake Park in north Tampa was another place I would see them. Recently there has been one hanging out at the nearby Possum Branch Preserve but it’s hit or miss to see it there. Last year I saw one at the bird rookery in north Tampa but I didn’t see any babies. This year there were several adults there and on my last visit in late May I saw babies.
They nest on the back side of the rookery so there’s no way to see the babies until they are juveniles and moving around on the rookery. There were 2 families there with the parents feeding them all over the rookery. They would fly off to get food and the juveniles would travel all over the bushes. The parents always seemed to find their own babies when they got back.
One of the juveniles was old enough to fly down into the pond and get some water. He didn’t have the deep burgandy color on his face but his green feathers on his wings were beautiful.
They were patiently waiting for Mom to come back with food. Some were practicing their wing flaps and hopping.
Deep in the bushes I could just barely see a much younger set of twins.
I’m hoping next year we’ll see even more of these beautiful birds at the rookery.
On April 5th I watched as a pair of Carolina wrens built a nest in my hanging plant. At first I thought they had abandoned it but several days later I saw the wren fly out and went outside and saw 5 eggs in the hole. Three weeks later I kept seeing one flying into the nest with bugs. I’m thinking the eggs must have hatched.
One morning after the parent left I went outside and was able to take these with my camera. I couldn’t tell how many at this point but I thought I saw 3 beaks.
For days both parents were busy bringing in bugs. These were all taken through the window.
A few days later I went outside and caught the above. Their eyes were open at this point. I think there was a 4th one back there.
Mom and Dad continued to bring bugs.
This was about 8 days after I first saw the babies. They were growing so fast and so much. They all didn’t fit in the hole anymore and the biggest was sleeping out on the basket. I took this on a Thursday afternoon before we left to go to Fort Lauderdale for a long weekend to visit Brett’s relatives.
We got back from our trip late Sunday afternoon and I ran outside to check on the babies and the basket was empty. I was crushed. I didn’t think they could be big enough to be out of the nest yet and thought maybe the crows got them. I came back inside to unpack and a few minutes later I heard Brett yelling that he had just seen the babies. I ran outside with my camera and found them on my neighbor’s patio. They were bouncing around with Mom close by. There were 4 babies. I was so excited to see them. They will be flying in 2-3 days and Mom will continue to feed them as they bounce around, learning to fly. They were heading down the neighborhood that night, staying close to the townhomes. I hope they all made it.
Baby great egrets were screaming for Mom to feed them.
The sky over the Tampa rookery was busy in early April. It was like standing at the airport during the holidays watching the planes take off.
The cormarants and anhingas are usually high up in the trees but I saw this anhinga sitting on a nest low on the other side of the rookery.
There were many other birds at the rookery besides the usual egrets and herons. A night heron, a female red winged blackbird and a catbird were also sighted. I was excited to see the glossy ibis here in the bottom picture but it looked like the couple was working on a nest on the backside of the rookery so seeing little glossy babies is a slim chance.
This baby was begging Mom to go get a fish. He was hungry, biting the parent’s beak and legs.
So many mouths to feed.
This one above appeared hungry but realized he would not be able to get that big fish down. After a few minutes he just sat down and wouldn’t take the fish from the parent. Maybe the parent had already fed them. The fish ended up in the sand.
It took this one a while but he eventually got it down.
After a while all of the babies were napping.
Another bumper crop of black skimmer babies this summer on the beaches in the Tampa bay area. So many babies and the parents were flying back and forth with tiny bait fish to feed them. I always wonder how the parents can find their own babies in a sea of little birds.
Fun at the zoo in early June. The manatees are back at the zoo which is good and bad thing. The zoo has been updating their water system in the manatee hospital so any injured manatees had to go to Homosassa Springs for rehabilitation for 6 months. Now that the manatee hospital is updated they can take in injured manatees. The bad thing is that the manatees have to be here at all. It’s great that visitors can see these big guys up close and that the zoo treats them but it’s sad that so many are injured due to boat strikes or sick from red tide.
On top of the manatee pool, a few juvenile blue herons are learning how to catch their own fish. These were all probably born in the nests over the alligator exhibit next door.
Vultures were drying off in the bear exhibit. They do this in the morning to easily warm their body up. Not sure why, it was already 85 degrees at 10am. The bear eventually came over to check them out. The vultures didn’t fly off but just moved over. They didn’t seem to scared of the bear.
The last of the wild baby blue heron birds that were growing up over the alligator exhibit.
Many of the birds were still sitting on eggs at the bird rookery at Gatorland in Orlando in mid-May.
Some were still flirting.
Lots of different wild birds hanging out at the park including the great egret above that stole a hot dog from an alligator. You can feed the alligators here but half of the time the birds get the food quicker.
The youngest baby birds at the rookery that morning. The baby snowy egrets were probably only a few days old.
The gators were getting frisky.
Seeing a baby gator up close.
This guy was taking a break before the crowds were on the boardwalk.
Tricolored herons are always fun to watch. They are really pretty when they are ready to mate. I mean, how many other animals have their legs turn from gray to bright pink in the spring?
Snowy egrets are always making a fuss.
The great egrets were also showing off with those red eyes.
This is a sad story but happens in nature. There was a nest near the boardwalk with three almost grown babies that had apparently been abandoned by the parents. Maybe something happened to the lone parent? Meanwhile, a mean adult snowy egret decided it wanted that nest instead of building her own and she was going to steal it from the babies. She spent all morning trying to push the babies off the nest. One had been poked in the face and was bleeding. The sad thing is that if the original parents did not come back, those 3 babies were probably going to starve. They are too young to feed themselves. They were sticking together and fighting off the intruder. She eventually left that morning but may have come back later to try again. Gatorland won’t interfere because it’s common for this to happen in nature. I’ve seen it happen before in a park where we couldn’t reach the nest. It’s a tough life out there for these birds.