Seeing Florida animals up close and a hippo too.

Birds you can see up-close at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park include a pair of whooping cranes that are both missing wings. They winter in Florida and were injured at some point and brought here to live. I overheard someone say “They cut off one wing so these birds can’s fly away.” and that is not true. Most of these animals are here due to man made injuries (hit by a car, a parent was hit by a car and now they are orphans, fishing lines, some were shot with a bb gun or arrow). I follow several wildlife rescue groups on facebook and it’s horrifying the things that happens to these animals.

Big animals that live at the park. On a recent episode of “Secrets of the Zoo:Tampa”, a baby bear was brought in to the zoo to be checked out when his mom died getting hit by a car. The zoo was able to secure a home for the cub here.

A snake up close.

Lu was a tv star on Flipper and was given to the park to live out his retirement. Lu is very popular with the kids and he just turned 60 in January.

I really went up to the park in January to see the manatees but there are also a lot of other fun animals to see as well.

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Always looking up

These cute little burrowing owls are looking out for predators. If anything looks suspect, they run back into their burrows. We don’t have any living in the Tampa Bay area so on a recent trip to see Brett’s relatives that live near Fort Lauderdale, we stopped by a sports park on the way that is known for having the little owls living there year round. It was the beginning of nesting season so they were all sticking close to the burrows. Many might have had eggs already in them. While Brett sat in the car and answered emails (it was a Friday after all), I ran around and took all of the above. All were taken with my 300mm with extender and cropped up.

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Up close with some crazy animals

It’s not often you can get up close to a bald eagle.  Especially a juvenile one (the all brown one in the last shot). These eagles are all missing a wing and now live at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. They are in an open enclosure and just love to pose.

Pelicans were just starting to nest.

A night heron in the first shot. He crept up pretty close to me. The wild great blue herons were working on nests in the top of the trees over the alligator exhibit.

A burrowing owl trying to sleep.

Other animals were all just chilling out the morning I was there in early January. Lots of fun animals at the park. Unfortunately most are injured but have a home here at the park.

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Getting up close with Florida critters.

Up close with a ruddy duck.

And black bellied whistling ducks.  One was missing an eye

A pretty lady wood duck.

A very important sign.  Even the night heron standing in front of it should not be fed.

“Hooo’s there?” said the burrowing owl.

Crawling critters behind glass.

Growing inside the aquarium, the beauty berry can be see in the many of the parks around Tampa. The birds and critters eat the berries.

On the wall in the aquarium, this would make cool wallpaper.

A few things from a recent trip to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.  When it’s too hot to see the fishies from the beach, it’s time to head inside at the aquarium.

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Breakfast with the burrowing owls

Yum, dirty frog for breakfast!

He’s completely ignoring me while he’s chowing down.

He looks over like “Wait, someone’s watching me eat.”

This one looks like he’s eating dirt. I think it’s a bug or something just completely covered in dirt.

Okay, now it looks like he’s eating twigs. He was chewing on it.

They looks so cute when they are holding something.

Just a few more pictures from my trip to Fort Lauderdale. I caught two owls eating for a few minutes. I didn’t see them catch their food. They seemed to have had it stored in their hole.

Cute burrowing owls

“Oh no, here comes another photographer.”

“What do you think? Should we do something cute?”

“She’s just getting the standard pose from me.”

“Wait, I gotta itch. Don’t take the picture yet.”

“Boring!”

“Let me dig a deeper hole to hide in.”

“What, she’s leaving already?”

Recently I was visiting relatives in Fort Lauderdale and had to stop by Brian Piccolo Park to see the burrowing owls. This was my 2nd visit there and the owls were still there looking as cute as ever. They have so much personality for such a little bird. There were not as many active holes as there was last year when I visited and it was the same weekend. It was a lot colder last year. I don’t know if they live at this park all year-long or if they just come in seasonally to nest. It was quiet while I was there. No soccer or baseball games. Last year as I was leaving, the park was getting packed.  Of course, I took a ton of pictures so there will be more to come.

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