I’ve only heard of two whooping cranes in central Florida although they supposedly migrate to an area farther north of Tampa in the winter. I think the ones I went looking for don’t migrate and live here all year. People have seen them in the area most of the year. I had an idea of the area they were in and drove a while down dirt roads lined with cow pastures and orange groves. I was thinking “needle in a haystack” and was ready to go home empty handed when I saw two white spots far away in a cow pasture. Excited, I pulled over and got out and snapped a few shots. Using my 300mm lens with an extender, the above were extremely cropped
Uncropped, they were in a small pond in the middle of a cow pasture.
Taken with my phone, you could really see how far away they were. See those two tiny white dots right in the middle?
There were a lot of other birds out in the pasture that you could only see with a long lens, including several kildeer in the first shot and lots of cattle egrets in the bottom two shots. It was a perfect day to be out, even if it was standing on a dirt road with the smell of cow pasture blowing in my direction.
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.
All of the above are missing a wing. They are permanent residents at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park.
A wild vulture stopped by for a handout.
Lots of other Florida wildlife there as well.
The flamingos were taking a bath or napping.
A few things from Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park in late December.
You could hear this sandhill crane calling from all over the park. He was yelling all morning. Maybe he was calling for his mate.
An injured whooping crane. One of these days I’m going to head to central Florida to look for the wild whooping cranes that winter there.
This very young spoonbill was not afraid of the tourist. He was right over the boardwalk.
Flamingos having a disagreement.
Are they a couple? The caracara on the left is missing a wing and two of his right toes.
Barred owls make the cutest faces.
This fulvous whistling duck had a bad right leg. He was limping around.
My first American wigeon.
Wood ducks were hanging around all over the park.
There’s a huge variety of birds at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. Birds that you would see in the wild from all over Florida. Most of these birds are injured in some way and have found a home here. We went up there to see the manatees that hang out in the river that runs through the park but there are so many great birds there as well. I might have to get back up there later in the springs to check out the sandhill crane, swan and duck babies.
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