"Daddy don't you walk so fast.."

     Do you remember walking in your Dad or Mom’s footsteps when you were little? You little legs just didn’t reach that far at first and you had to “Scoot your boot” to keep up. At other times, they would probably take your hand and walk slowly with you. Made you feel safe, right?

     While on a recent workshop I got to observe some recently hatched Sandhill Crane colts (baby Sandhill Cranes are called “Colts”). We were walking along a narrow path between one canal and a swamp when we encountered two Adult Sandhill Cranes with two Colts walking along with us. Lots of other park visitors had already passed them and the parents had stopped and lifted their heads and whatever bird sound they made, it was clear they were scolding the humans for coming too close to their young ones. The cranes have long legs and big feet. The colts were not even as big as one of their parent’s feet and were scurrying to keep up as fast as they could. The parents then slowed down and hunted for insects to feed the colts. The colts were happy to taste the tidbits offered. The colts would look up at us humans occasionally and then run and catch up with their parents. My last look at them was walking down that path with the sun shining through the trees. Sadly, I heard that one of the colts was taken by a bobcat the next day. The parents I am sure are wishing they still had their little colt and would love to hear it say, Daddy don’t you walk so fast.

     Sorry if I made you cry. Losing loved ones is inevitable for all of us. I am so glad I know we will meet again someday. Aren’t you? 

We encounter a Sandhill Crane pair with colts along our path

We encounter a Sandhill Crane pair with colts along our path

Baby Sandhill Cranes are called "Colts"

I'm hungry Mom..

The Sandhill family encounter some tourist and photographers blocking the path

The Sandhill family encounter some tourist and photographers blocking the path

Get away from my Colts! 

Sandhill Crane Adult profile

I am a cute Colt huh?

We also encountered the handsome Great Blue Heron on the walk

We also encountered the handsome Great Blue Heron on the walk

Where did my brother go Mommy?

"Daddy don't you walk so fast"..(song by Wayne Newton)

Profiles in feathers

     While on one of our overnights respites to Orlando, the Editor and I were walking around one of the Disney attractions. An artist was busy cutting out profiles/black silhouettes of tourists for framing. I had on my signature Greek fishing hat. My profile is now etched for eternity in our bedroom. I am sure someday it will end up in a landfill but for now it remains, the black outlined image of a man, a husband, a mustached sailor, and yet a mystery to even myself at times.

     I have been collecting profile shots of my feathered friends too. Now all I need is a glance at their profiles and I recognize them immediately. I am amazed at the intricate details that can be seen in the types and colors of feathers on the various species. Owl feathers have wispy tips that silence the sound of this bird of prey in flight and focus even the slightest noise to their sensitive ears. Some birds like the adult Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills have lost most of their head feathers due to the bacteria in the muddy creeks which migrate up the beaks and devour the feathers. The cardinals display intricate design in the feathers. Raptor profiles are very impressive looking. The sharp beaks and piercing eyes captivate the viewer.

     I hope you enjoy these profiles. I looked out the window yesterday and saw one that made my heart leap for joy. A sure sign of spring arrived. There was that familiar shape, the white strip under the eyes and Yellow plume on the crown of the head. Yes, “George”, the Yellow-crowned Night and his family have returned to the Broward. It was the same week last year that he arrived, just like clockwork. Blessings. Harry

It's Springtime...George the Yellow-crowned Night heron is back with his family!

It's Springtime...George the Yellow-crowned Night heron is back with his family!

My name isn't George,,,I am a Canada Goose you silly goose!

My name isn't George,,,I am a Canada Goose you silly goose!

Bad hair feather day for a Snowy Egret

Goose Goose....DUCK! I am a mottled duck female!

Goose Goose....DUCK! I am a mottled duck female!

I'm a diving duck called a Hooded Merganser

Female Red Cardinal,,note the intricate feather patterns

Female Red Cardinal,,note the intricate feather patterns

You need a Long lens to get my long beak said the Juvenile White Ibis

You need a Long lens to get my long beak said the Juvenile White Ibis

White Ibis (mature) profile...ole Blue Eyes

Great Egret Profile,,my neck is so long I got to scrunch it to get in the picture

I am the Editor's favorite...Pied-billed Grebe, another diving duck

I am the Editor's favorite...Pied-billed Grebe, another diving duck

I'm unique to Florida..I am the Florida Scrub Jay

Ok, I'm a Turkey...Turkey Vulture that is

Tricolored Heron Profile

He who laughs last is a Laughing Gull

I got the cute award..Royal Tern hatchling

I got the cute award..Royal Tern hatchling

I get the ugly award..I am a Wood Stork..don't recommend my barber...

 Tricolored Heron chick

 Tricolored Heron chick

Who do you think you are? I am the Great Horned Owl

Who do you think you are? I am the Great Horned Owl

Barred Owl,,note the way the feathers focus sound to the ears with the eye mask

Barred Owl,,note the way the feathers focus sound to the ears with the eye mask

Broward Bob, the Little Blue Heron

Red Shouldered Hawk making a loud squawk

Artistic rendition of an Anhinga male profile

Swallow-tailed Kite

Great Blue Heron

Boat Tailed Grackle female profile

Snail Kite with Escargot hook

Snail Kite with Escargot hook

Black-crowned Night Heron...note the nictitating membrane

Royal Tern Profile

American Great Bald Eagle...King of the sky

You eat them snails?

     Escargot anyone? I recently returned from several sojourns to South Florida to photograph a very illusive and not often seen hawk that loves to dine primarily on snails. This hawk feeds almost exclusively on apple snails and has a beak especially adapted for extracting the meat of the snail. Unfortunately, the number of the American Apple Snails is rapidly diminishing due to its low tolerance for pollution. Fortunately for the Snail Kite, some other exotic apple snail species have begun to replace the American variety.

     Per the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the Snail Kite is widespread and common in Latin America (several million), but in the US, which has about 1% or less of the population, it is listed as endangered both Federally and in Florida, largely due to its small population and its extreme habitat specialization. Found only in Southern Florida this striking bird can be spotted in marshland habitats supporting populations of apple snails. The male is dark grey-to-brown with a white stripe across the back of the tail while females are more mottled brown and white. The male sports a very distinctive orange colored area on the base of the beak and feet. The Snail Kite soars over the lily pads and marshes looking for its favorite food.  When it spots its prey  it quickly dives down and grabs it with its claws, carrying it back to a perch. Here it extracts the meat of the snail with a long curved hooked beak and devours the escargot in a big gulp. Then it lifts off in search of another and another.

     Although I did not capture my dream shot of this bird I did indeed get to observe them closely with some friends and got some wonderful captures of its unique feeding style and favorite meal. I will think of them the next time I dine on fine escargot in southern France. Blessings. Harry

This water lily and pads hosts a diminishing population of apple snails in the southern marshes of Florida

A discarded apple snail shell left by a feeding Snail Kite..you really eat them things? 

This species of apple snail eggs with its pink hue is the Island Apple Snail.  It is replacing the diminishing American Apple Snail whose eggs are more grayish in color. 

This species of apple snail eggs with its pink hue is the Island Apple Snail.  It is replacing the diminishing American Apple Snail whose eggs are more grayish in color. 

The last thing the apple snail saw.  A male Snail Kite hunting for the apple snail..

Female Snail Kite bringing back an apple snail for lunch...

The male Snail Kite is dark grey-to-brown with orange feet and facial area. It has a white stripe on tail and back.

Male Snail Kite hovers over the marsh looking for snails.

Snail Kite male bringing in nesting material

Male Snail Kite Profile.  Note the curved beak which is especially adept at removing snail meat

Male Snail Kite bringing in snails...

Female Snail Kite in flight

Maie Snail Kite in flight in early morning light

Female Snail Kite landing on perch

Female Snail Kite with snail on perch...Photo by and with permission of Michael Tapes

Escargot anyone?

Limpkin landing...they also love snails, especially stealing them from the Kites..

Boat-tailed Grackles also love to steal the Snail Kites morsels..

Grackle tries to steal a snail...Photo by and with permission of Michael Tapes

The "rare" White Ibis also compete for the snails..

Male Snail Kite profile..

Female Snail Kite lifts off to hunt for more delicious escargot..

Be fruitful and multiply..

     When God created the birds of the air (and all living things) he gave a command…”Be fruitful and multiply”. Let me tell you that is one of the few commandments we seem to have listened to. But for some of creation it is not an easy thing anymore. While we “civilized” populations built homes for our families and expanded across the country, the trees and breeding habitats of some of the animals and birds have shrunk accordingly. One of the few places in Florida where one can see breeding marsh birds up close and personal is the Venice Area Audubon Rookery. It is located in Sarasota county in the city of Venice Florida.

     Day 1 of my recent three-day bird photography workshop across central Florida brought us to the Venice Rookery. Although they call it a lake, I would call it more of a large pond with a small clump of trees and brush on a small island.  This is an ideal habitat for birds to nest as land predators have no easy access to the nest and eggs. This small island is host to breeding Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Green Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Tricolored Herons, Anhinga, Cormorants and several other species. That is a good thing. The bad thing, is that it seems they are all trying to breed and build nests at the same time in a very small area. Territorial squabbles are marked by mere inches. Every square foot of this island seems covered with one bird or another. Photographers have difficulty deciding which bird to follow.

     Unfortunately, the sun and clouds did not cooperate the morning we were there and I struggled to capture the nest building activity in the less than optimum lighting conditions. Hope you enjoy the attempt to share this little “paradise” with you. Blessings. Harry

Photo from Bing Gallery website.

The Venice rookery is a small lake/pond with an even smaller island habitat in the middle. Photo from Google

Nearly every square inch is covered with breeding marsh birds ...photo from Bing Gallery shots

Get another stick she says...I stole this one from an Anhinga...Black-crowned Night Heron wing kisses the lake..

Incoming stick....the landing areas are a real challenge..

Incoming stick....the landing areas are a real challenge..

Great Egret Glides above the island looking for a safe landing branch

Great Blue Heron Touchdown with full flaps applied to land on a narrow branch..

Only the strong survive...Sibling rivalry with Great Blue Heron chicks..they will be fledging soon..

Only the strong survive...Sibling rivalry with Great Blue Heron chicks..they will be fledging soon..

Great Blue Heron display posture

Great Blue Heron display posture

Anhinga Male bringing in stick for nesting..(note the blue breeding color around the eye)

Be Fruitful and Multiply...it's a tough job but someone has to do it..and I'm your bird..

email: selsorhd@me.com

All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.