birds, blessings, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

Sunday at The Narrows…

The good thing about going to The Narrows on Sunday is that you get to hear the presentation given by Patrick, the director of the center.  And you see his determination to have the birds interacting with the people, and the people interacting with the birds, first hand. 5-6presentationI had gotten a synopsis of Patrick’s theories on caring for these birds who come to The Narrows as their forever home after have been evaluated and found to not be able to return to the wild.  But I wasn’t prepared to see the birds sitting in the audience along side the people of all ages.  They have been deemed unable to return to the wild due to eye problems, damage to wings, and even, in the case of Sarge the eagle, a congenital abnormality that prevents her from growing flight feathers.  But they are assured of a comfortable life, not life in a cage, but a walk along the paths and fresh air daily.  All of which is good for them.  And they in turn provide therapeutic interaction with people who are in need of encouragement.  What could be better?

5-6barredowl5-6closeowl5-6owl5-6redshouldered5-6redtail5-6slasher

nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, on closer examination, photography

Also at the zoo…

I’m ashamed to say that I was so busy taking photos that I didn’t stop to find out exactly what these creatures are.  With a couple of exceptions.

4-29B&Wmonkey4-29butterfly4-29mercat4-29notlittlenotblueIt may not be blue, but it’s a Little Blue Heron chick.

4-29parrot4-29smile4-29snowyleopard4-29snowyleopard24-29teethI believe I may have cleaned those teeth before.4-29tightrope

I was fascinated by the tightrope walking monkey, but didn’t realize that someone was along for the ride until I saw the image in the computer.  Hang on little dude!

learning, life, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, on closer examination, photography

Monkey business…

4-29monkeyfeatureMy love affair with Orangutans goes back to when I lived in San Diego in the 70s.  We were a Navy family, part of a huge number of military families there.  Happily the San Diego Zoo made a trip there very affordable for us, which was a blessing when your husband would ship out for 7 months at a time.  The first thing you would see upon entering was the nursery, where they took care of baby animals for whatever reason they might need to.  Tiny baby orangutans wearing premie-sized Pampers and playing together in that nursery was the cutest thing ever.  I was hooked.

But I only looked up info on them today.  I discovered that their name comes from ‘orang’ which is Malay for person, and ‘utan’ which means forest.  They were considered to be persons who lived in the trees.  They are peaceable, quiet, shy, gentle, and friendly to humans.  They fashion tools to use to gather food, and they seem to have maps in their brains so that they know which trees will bear ripened fruit and when.  They are the largest tree dwelling mammal, and seldom need to come to the forest floor.  They live to be 35 to 40 years old in the wild, nurse from their mothers until 6 years old, and don’t reproduce until their teens.  This means that each female orangutan only has 4 or 5 babies in her lifetime, which is part of the reason they are endangered in Borneo, and critically endangered in Sumatra.

4-29monkey14-29monkey24-29monkey34-29monkey54-29monkey64-29monkeymama

And did I mention that 97% of their genetic makeup is the same as humans?  The photo group visited the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa yesterday, and though I took lots of photos, these are my favorites, and I just had to let them stand alone…

adventure, birds, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography, The Narrows

The Narrows…

My friend Larry was already a ‘bird brain’ when he attended a talk given by the director of the Education Center at The Narrows.  When he heard that the director thought that the birds should be among the people, and the people should be among the birds he was impressed.  But when he heard that these birds provide rehabilitation for people who are suffering from trauma from many sources, as well as receiving rehabilitation themselves, and/or a permanent home if they aren’t deemed able to survive on their own, he was hooked and became a volunteer.  A chance encounter with someone with a lot of knowledge of birds, and who was willing to share that knowledge, was what had sparked his interest in birds, and he is doing a great job of sharing the knowledge he has gained.  The volunteers take care of the birds, clean the cages, and hand feed when needed, but also walk along the paths in the park, lovely shaded paths, with birds on their arm, and stop to talk with visitors about the animals.  I wish I had known about this facility when I had visitors recently so that I could have recommended a visit to them.  So I am recommending a visit to you if you are ever in the Tampa Bay area.  You can check them out at Largonature.com.

Hand feeding…4-18handfeeding

This is Slayer. He, along with Slasher, are American Kestrals.  They imprinted with people and that’s what prevents them from living in the wild.4-18slasherorslayer1

Shay is a Red-tailed hawk who lost part of his wing and now is a resident at The Narrows.4-18Shay

When I say that this little Screech Owl is little I’m not kidding.  Take the mental image you just got and divide by two.  Larry had taken pictures of one once, he couldn’t see the bird but took the pictures based on what the people around him were saying, and was amazed when he looked at the pictures in the computer later.  That’s when he saw the owl.  I took this picture when he held this little guy up to demonstrate to me this ability to blend in, and then he did the same for some young girls who were walking along the path.  But the tree he used then didn’t have the heavily textured bark that this tree had and I didn’t expect the same result.  I was wrong, it blended just as well, and the girls were quite amazed.

4-18screechowl14-18screech2If there was an aspect of photography that I would have said that I wasn’t interested in it would have been portraits.  But when you are so close to these birds you almost don’t have a choice, but that’s not a complaint.  When do you get to see them in such detail?

4-18sarge4-18barredowl4-18hornedportrait

This Great Blue Heron is just a visitor, but since he posed so nicely I also took his picture.

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backyard visitors, birds, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

He’s a ham…

Or perhaps it’s a she.  But at any rate it wasn’t the first time that I saw the Tri-color Heron on my side of the pond today, but when I first noticed him I didn’t leap into action grabbing my tripod out of the car, and changing the lens on the camera.  It was the second time I noticed him that I gave in to the urge to go out with the camera.  Usually once I get out there he flies to the other side of the pond, but today he took pity on me and stuck around, posing like a pro.  Even the sun cooperated and came out after the rain earlier.  But I didn’t bargain on the wind, which didn’t seem to bother him, but it did make it even harder to keep the lens still.  I thought the weather would keep me from getting out at all today so this was a treat.  I really enjoy watching that little heron.  He is always so busy when he is out there, he is hard to resist.

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backyard visitors, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography

Do a little dance…

If you were a Sandhill crane you might be overcome with passion right now, because I have a feeling that this pose is irresistible, to a member of the opposite crane-sex.  2-27cranedanceThen you might choose to do a little dance of your own…2-27cranedance2And then we would have chicks to enjoy, and photograph.  2-27cranedance3But though they return every evening, and explore the mound that they built, I am not as hopeful that I’ll have such convenient photo ops this year.  I see pairs of cranes in the neighborhood every day, but not single cranes, so I guess no one is home sitting on eggs.  I’d like to think that the cold weather has just delayed things a bit, maybe…2-28craneeating2-28craneeating22-28craneeating3They were back again yesterday, feasting on something out there.  Yes, they stab their beaks all the way into the soft earth, that’s not an optical illusion.  I came around back on the riding mower and there they were, and since I didn’t want to disturb them I stopped the mower and went in and got my camera.  I think I disturbed them more by doing that, since they picked their heads up and watched to see just how close I would come with my tripod.  As soon as I stopped and set up they quit worrying about me, and I was only 20 feet away, if that.  There was no further dancing, they were too busy, and I eventually wanted to finish my mowing, so I got on the mower and did the areas out back that were furthest from them.  I had already noticed that they pay no attention to mowers, having seen them follow right behind the mowers in the yard across the way, but I hated to interrupt them.  By the time I needed to get to that last part of the yard they had wandered further to the left and on to the next yard.  That mud at the edge of the lake was looking particularly black, I can’t wait for the next time Ozzie goes down there to drink and sinks up to his ankles in that nice, black mud…