Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sparky's Spoonbill Study and a Dolphin Tale

Sparky had a sandhill crane study on the blog, now it's time for a spoonbill study....We were at the Gulf  Drive Tiki Bar and Grill on Anna Maria Island on a Sunday morning. We have been there several times and had seen dolphins every single time so we were hoping to see them today. Nope! The fish weren't swimming in close to shore, so the dolphins were somewhere else. We still had a wonderful breakfast and saw some great shorebirds and pelicans in flight early this morning. This is a snowy egret taking off. He's got black legs and brilliant yellow feet, that's how you know it's a snowy egret, although you can't see his yellow feet in the photo.
Sparky likes to watch the pelicans soar and glide so low across the water....One of the names for a bunch of pelicans is a squadron. They are so unified in flight, they look like a squadron! This was the leader, there were about four more behind him.
(Uh, Sparky...the spoonbill study? She's always getting sidetracked, you know....explains E.) OH! Yeah! We went looking for dolphins on the other side of Anna Maria Island, but first we spotted a roseate spoonbill outside an apartment complex with some ibis, foraging for food. Here come the spoonbill photos.....First, Sparky's favorites...Coming or going? Not sure which....

"See this lady in front of us? I think she's stalking us!"

"Maybe if I hide this tree, she won't see me."
And here's a compilation of the rest with some repeats....

And here comes everything else about them....They are so beautiful, you'd think they'd be the Florida state bird but they are not. (The mockingbird is!) Spoonbills were once almost extinct, but they have made such a comeback due to conservation and preservation efforts, there are quite a few of them and they no longer need protection.  Spoonbills weigh 2-4 pounds, and stand about 3 feet tall. They are a member of the ibis family--those white birds in the photos with the curved orange beaks.  Spoonbills are fun to watch as they feed, sweeping their bills from side to side, scooping up tiny little fish, crustaceans, snails, shrimp, insects and frogs. Immature birds are lighter in color and have white, feathered heads. The mature birds have a greenish cast to their heads. The spoonbills get their beautiful pink and red colored feathers from the food they eat, like flamingoes. Just like if you ate a bazillion carrots, your skin might get a little orangish tinge?  Sparky's mom told her that one time....

Spoonbills nesting time is November and December, and they build their nests in trees....They are very social birds and usually hang out together in flocks or with other birds like the ibis, heron, and storks. Their wing feathers are amazing! If you are lucky enough to get to see them fly, the underneath feathers are a brilliant pink/red color. Sparky captured one flying away from her today. A little blurry photo, but you can still see the brilliant pinkish red tinge....So gorgeous! This spoonbill was hanging outside an apartment complex on Anna Maria Island, so you can see them just about anywhere in Sarasota and Bradenton, you just have to be on the watch for a turkey shaped big bird with pink feathers in a crowd of other wading birds in marshy areas, or anywhere for that matter! Sparky saw one in a ditch outside of Sun 'n' Fun RV park on Fruitville Road last winter.

Sparky hopped back in the car, and we headed towards Bradenton. As we were driving through Anna Maria Island and crossing one of the causeways, we saw dolphins in the water! Awesome! Gotta stop, Eldo, so we did!  And here they are, just lazing around on an early Sunday morning...a pod of at least five or six, and more than one pod in the area....
We kept watching and saw a few more....and got to see them spout as they came up for!
What a great morning for bird watching, dolphin watching, and nature watching in general! It's one of our favorite things to do...A drive of about 20 minutes from our house, and we are in Anna Maria Island, one of MANY places to see dolphins and beautiful birds.....Thanks for coming along today....


  1. Just love those Roseate Spoonbills, and to see them in the wild is so awesome.
    Sounds like you had a fun day.

  2. What a great day! Wonderful pictures and info about the spoonbills. I'm envying you the great weather. It has rained every day for a week here.

  3. Never knew the spoonbills were 3 feet tall! Never saw one, actually :) Hoping we see some while we're in FL this winter.

  4. glad you are enjoying your new, permanent digs. . .good for you!