Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bird Life of Marco

One of the many highlights of my trips to Marco Island has always been the birds I see there. Shore birds are pretty thin on the ground here at home, so every bird I see there is a treat. My favorite by far is the Brown Pelican . Not only is it a beautiful bird (OK, in the eye of the beholder), but it's so much fun to watch. Early in the morning I can watch them on the Marco River catching their breakfast. They plunge into the water for fish - it's a finely orchestrated bit of business, but looks like they are accidentally dropping out of the sky head first. I almost never see one come up without a catch, often surfacing only to find a gull landed on his head hoping to snatch the hard earned catch. Pelicans will return the favor in a way. They hang around fishermen, and the pier in Naples Florida where fishermen clean their catch is a popular spot for pelicans hoping for handouts. In the afternoon I often see long lines of them fly over the balcony, so close that I can hear the air through their wings. Like geese they fly in a formation that minimizes exertion for the group; it's a beautiful sight that never fails to thrill me, even though sitting under a line of pelicans exposes you to the risk of what is quite possibly the worst smelling bird poop in the planet (eats fish and only fish, remember). The Brown Pelican is one of the birds brought back from the edge of extinction by the DDT ban. Because they incubate their eggs under their feet, they were especially vulnerable to the effects of DDT on the shells of their eggs. They came off the endangered species list in 1985, and have been reintroduced to Louisiana (The Pelican State) from where they had completely disappeared.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Hi Ellen,

I found you through a comment you left on Time Goes By today. I live in Portland, Maine, where Ronni Bennett now lives. She actually had a lot to do with my getting into blogging.

I lived in Tulsa for five years back in the '70s and, as a native Mainer, felt for a while as if I had landed on the dark side of moon.

We visited Oklahoma City once during those years. In retrospect, I think we would have been happier there. The place seemed more genuine somehow.

But it's been 30 years, which sounds a awful lot like half a lifetime. I'd like to visit OK again some time.

Your blog will help me get reacquainted with the place.