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.
For some reason, the tricolored herons seem to be the last birds to nest at the bird rookery at Gatorland. Maybe they take over great egret nests once they are finished using them. There were a few nests that had older babies including the ones above.
Some were just a few days old.
Some of the older ones still being fed by parents.
These triplets, who were growing up in a nest on a palm tree right up against the boardwalk, were pretty funny to watch. They are so comical at this age. These were all taken during my last visit in late May.
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.
All of the above are baby anhingas at different ages. Seen from the boardwalk tower, the nests are right over the water at Sawgrass Lake Park. There were many nests along the lake and luckily there a few close to the tower.
One of the Mom’s sitting close to the overcrowded nests.
Not many other birds around during my walk after work in late May. A few green herons were close to the tower.
Other critters at the park. Someone told me that the snake is a copperhead which is a first for me. He’s one of the 6 venomous snakes in Florida. His head shape doesn’t look like a copperhead on line so I’m not sure if it was one. He slid back under the boardwalk quickly so I didn’t get a shot of his body. Any confirmed ID?
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.
The tiniest babies a the park, these snowy egrets were only a day or two old. Mom was sitting on them most of the morning but she stood up to stretch for a few minutes.
A few other nests had babies that were a few days older.
This baby was getting big.
Across the lake, baby great egrets were just waking up.
I did not make it over to Gatorland in Orlando last year so I made a trip in early April this spring. Most of the baby birds at the bird rookery were great egrets and snowy egrets. The cattle egrets and tricolored herons were just sitting on eggs. The morning went by fast as the birds were feeding the babies and flying by with sticks for the nests. All too quickly it was almost lunch time and the birds were settling down for mid-day naps.