A Pod of Pelican & Congregation of Egret

I love collective nouns they can be so deliciously descriptive, and when I visited the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Centre (see their blog) at Tavernier (about a 35 min drive away from Conch Key) I needed several “nouns” to describe the humongous number of “wild” birds that collect there at 3.30pm every day.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret Staring Match…

I knew it was going to be a great day when I got out the car at the centre, looked up and saw (and heard) two Red Bellied Woodpeckers at the top of a telegraph pole. They natty away happily to each other as they fly from post to tree to post – you can easily follow them around but I had other birds to see.

Red Bellied Woodpeckers

Red Bellied Woodpeckers

The Centre was set up “quite by accident in 1984, when a veterinarian asked a woodcarver to help with some injured birds”. Since then it has grown and grown and now covers a large area with “habitats” (cages) holding the birds that are too injured ever to be released and those that are in “rehab”.

Black & White Warbler

A Little Black & White Warbler

Seeing the birds in the cages breaks my heart, so I didn’t take ANY photos of them.

What I was really looking forward to seeing were the wild birds that seem to be attracted by the other birds and are happy to pose for photos at very close quarters. So ALL the photos here are of wild birds.

Blue Jay

A Velvety Blue Jay

I’ve seen Blue Jays from a distance but to see one about 20ft away was great. They tip their heads on the side just like our English Jays. A really cheeky bird with the most beautiful coloured wing and tail feathers and naughty glint in it’s eye!

White Ibis

White Ibis Rippled Reflections

Although the White Ibis can be seen all over the Keys it was nice to see a whole load of them (actually I’ve just looked it up and it’s a “crowd”) wandering around the mangroves acting as if they really didn’t have a care in the world.

Snowy Egret

Paddling Snowy Egret

The same can be said of this Snowy Egret above with his enormous green feet and gorgeous plumage (which in the past was much used in hats for ladies!). No chance of that now (thank God). Not a hat in sight!

White Ibis

A Pair of White Ibis

The injured birds are fed in their cages at about 3pm and it’s around then that the wild birds start to congregate. These two White Ibis above were some of the first to fly in and took a special interest in what was going on below.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret Clean up

While they wait the birds use the time to have a general clean up. How they do it on one leg I have no idea but I guess if I had claws like that I’d be able to do it too. I love the white against the blue, blue sky.

Great Egret

Great Egret’s fighting for the best spots

Then the Great Egret’s started to gather. There were obviously favoured landing spots in the mangroves and several fights were breaking out as they jostled for the best spots legs and wings going in all directions.

Brown Pelicans

A lot of the birds who have been rehabilitated and set free come back to the centre at 3.30pm for some free fish (and they must bring their mates). The Brown Pelicans are probably the most numerous. I can really say I’ve never been so near to this many hungry pelicans and this many “hooky” beaks.

Brown Pelicans

I’m told that the Brown Pelican was nearly wiped out in Florida by DDT chemicals in the 1970/80’s – happily they now seem to be making a good recovery.  As I stood on the beach waiting for the carers to come out with the fish I was trodden on, hit with wings and generally jostled by “pods” of them.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING was getting in the way of these pelicans and their free food!

Brown Pelicans

It turns into a mass of feathers and sharp beaks as the fish fly. I wanted to get some pictures but I must admit that having been bitten/beaked by a Brown Pelican before (don’t ask!) I wasn’t keen to be bitten again, so I kept my fingers well away from the action.


As the chaos died down I turned away from the beach and spotted all these Egrets making their way back into the mangrove. I know this is out of focus (on purpose I promise) I just wanted to try and get a feeling of the movement. Anyway, I like it – I think it looks kind of like a painting (I must have been having an “arty” moment Mum!).

Turkey Vultures

Turkey Vultures overhead

Walking back to the car I looked up and saw hundreds of Turkey Vultures gliding overhead looking for some free leftovers. Not much chance of that but it was good to see them close up. You usually only see them high, high up in the sky flying on the thermals.

Brown Pelican

Now don’t tell me this isn’t a prehistoric looking bird. See ya beaky!


~ by Jane on November 22, 2008.

4 Responses to “A Pod of Pelican & Congregation of Egret”

  1. You have so many wonderful photos here that I just don’t know where to start!
    Beautiful post, Jane.

  2. Thanks Dragonstar, glad you enjoyed it. I spent a great day there with all the birds around me (my kind of place!)

  3. We used to see Blue Jays in Canada and they are such a beautiful blue, its dazzling! Love the Pelican photos – have seen them diving and fishing behind the local fishing boats off the island of Marguerita down in the Caribbean and as you say, they are really the most prehistoric of birds.

  4. I loved the Blue Jays. As you say the blue is amazing. The pelicans make me laugh. They are so graceful in the air and so clumsy on land, like modern day Pterodactyl! Jane

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