The Alligator Farm
The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine is a Zoological Park with lots of alligators as well as exotic birds and assorted animals. Because of the safety that the alligators provide against their predators wild birds come to nest in the trees above them. Early spring is a great time to observe the nest building, breeding and to see the chicks of a variety of birds.
The park has captive alligators in the water below broad boardwalks that allow you to see not only the alligators, but the birds nesting in trees that are at eye level. There is constant activity of birds flying bringing in nesting materials and food for mates and chicks, vying for partners, and defending nests.
There are so many images that I wanted to share that I’ve broken them down into several posts. There will be more later.
(Click an image to enlarge. Use the arrows to go to the next.)
The Snowy Egret is a small feisty bird ready to fight at a moment’s notice at any perceived threat. They make a very odd sound in between a gurgle and a chuckle which always brings a smile to my face. At the Alligator Farm they tend to build nests in the palm trees along the boardwalk and elsewhere on the property. During breeding season they will develop an elegant flowing plume on the back of their head which at one time during the Victorian period was valued at twice the price of gold. The popularity of bird feathers of all kinds almost led to the distinction of many birds.
Cattle Egrets are natives of Africa and showed up in the US via South America in the mid-1940’s. When not in breeding season they’re mostly white, and you’ve probably seen them in pastures following cattle or tractors around while they eat the insects that are stirred up. In breeding plumage they take on rusty colors that make them quite attractive. To me, they always look like they’re mad about something.
The Roseate Spoonbill is the only spoonbill found in America. Like the flamingo it gets its pink color from the crustaceans that it eats. During breeding season its colors are amplified. While its feathers are beautiful its head is a little odd with its red eyes, big bill and bald head. Somewhat like humans as the Roseate ages it loses feathers on its head.
There are many Roseates that congregate at the Alligator Farm giving plenty of opportunities to photograph this intriguing bird.
The first image is that of a Roseate bringing nesting material back to the nest. It looks like he might have gotten more than he bargained for. Tucked back into a palm tree alongside the boardwalk was a Roseate nest with a newly hatched chick. When I went back the next day another had hatched. The last image is of a juvenile Roseate. As you can see, the color is a more pastel version of the adult.
There are a number of other birds that nest at the Alligator Farm. I will have more to share with you in the next post. Thank you for taking the time to join me. You are appreciated! I love hearing from you so please feel free to leave me a message. We are working to be able to respond back to you to your email and hope to have that in place shortly.
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Thanks again, Cheryl