Anders and I are back in Florida for the next several weeks, indulging a passion for chasing the birds. It’s our sixth birding adventure to the winter home of millions of birds – from stately herons and egrets, to sassy songbirds, opportunistic seagulls and menacing hawks.
It’s like reuniting with old friends — hearing the familiar squawks and calls, being able to distinguish a breeding bird with only a glance, and knowing that a warbler is a Palm just by the shake of its tail feathers.
We started this birding quest not knowing the difference between a seagull and a tern, never mind the pipers and plovers. By day we’d search for birds to photograph. By night we’d thumb though the guidebook page by page, comparing our photos with the colors of beaks, feathers and feet to figure out just what it was we had found.
We’ve come a long way in our knowledge of birds, and it’s all too easy to puff up and shake a little tail feather myself. (Aren’t I something, looking through my new binoculars and being the first one to spot a Red-shouldered Hawk hiding in the middle of a palm tree. I have taken to calling myself the Hawk Whisperer.)
While revisiting some of the wildlife sanctuaries near our campground in Melbourne on Florida’s northeast coast, I realized I was starting to get a teeny bit bored. The first time you see a Roseate Spoonbill foraging, it’s magical. (Click here for the video.) The fifteenth time, not quite so much.
Just about then, at Viera Wetlands just up the coast, along walked a Sandhill Crane. (They do in fact walk almost right up to you. For this video, click here.)
With a blink of that Crane’s eye, my perspective on repetitive birding got rearranged. Think you’ve seen it all? Better look again.