Thursday, February 16, 2017

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Roosts

     We visited some of Tim's amazing family in St. Augustine, which included a much anticipated lunch with his Nanni. She is an amazing woman and we admire her greatly. After a delicious lunch, that ate more like a dinner, complete with dessert, Tim and I visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.
     This zoological facility houses all 23 species of crocodilian, including the largest reptile, the Saltwater Crocodile. They also have various species of birds, and also attract wild birds as well. They have a large alligator swamp where you can walk a boardwalk and feed the alligators like you would ducks. Of course, I took part in feeding the gators, it made me squeal and giggle the way one would over a puppy. Anyway, the more important thing about this exhibit space is that wild birds have set up a rookery including egrets, spoonbill and heron and it gave me a nice look at some gorgeous birds...
A very beautiful great egret showing the feathers that almost resulted in its demise. These birds, among others gained protecting through the migratory bird act that protected birds like egrets against hunting-- purely for their plumes, at the time a fashion trend in hats, caps, and clothing. 

Egrets nest in large rookeries, which are easy to find-- follow the whitewash. Rookeries are littered not only with nests, but bird waste that falls below.

I am so in awe of the spoonbills- they are so dazzlingly beautiful- even with their odd, bald heads. I was really happy to have one roosting so close to the boardwalk, preening its feathers, seemingly relaxed.

It must be awkward to preen with that bill... the spoonbill's bill is used like a spoon, swung from side to side underwater, sifting through mud for small crustaceans and fish. It is their food that gives them their brilliant pink color-- perhaps helping to advertise their health and vigor to a potential mate.

Those feathers...

The Facility also keeps its own blog about their rookery-- check it out here.