“The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the world with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest whence he sprang.”
~ Leonardo DaVinci
Garden chores and house chores done for the weekend, we treated the kids to another day trip at the High Island Bird Sanctuary. If you’ll remember, we went out there for the first time during the winter, and again during spring break “Cousin Camp,” both of which were a bit early for the birds, better for reconnaissance.
We stopped first at the Smith Oaks Rookery — the most awe-inspiring visual for one spot. Though already on our list for the year (they are regulars in our yard) these Egrets, Spoonbills, and Cormorants were busy building nests and attracting mates — by the score. The sanctuary was hit hard by Hurricane Ike in 2008, but still these birds have come back every year since, roosting in the bushes below instead.
As the habitat restores itself slowly over time, nature and its species persevere.
With lots of hiking (and whining) logged, we tried to hit several spots this time where the kids could run amok. Several species were added to our Big Year List, placing us at 129 so far. We continue keeping regular tabs with Bob (Texas) and Judy (Atlantic), who are also doing their own Big Years. Be sure to check out their pages! They are much better photographers than I am.
Here’s what we added on the drive, at the sanctuary, and at the 300-acre Skillern Tract in Anahuac NWR, no new ones at the beach:
- Eastern Kingbird
- Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
- White-faced Ibis
- White-tailed Kite
- Wood Stork Finally!!
- Bell’s Vireo
- Barn Swallow
- Green Heron
Additionally, Angie correctly described a bird she saw (Cerulean Warbler) and John, the Prothonotary Warbler — both migrants — but since there was no confirmed 2nd sighting, neither one made the list. We heard the Blue Grosbeak singing his song loud and clear, and others in the area got to see him, but we were unable to get him into our field lenses. He too didn’t make the list. Another, a nesting Screech Owl, wouldn’t cooperate by sticking her head out of the box. We like to call them The Ones That Got Away.
We were also lucky to see several snakes, two of which were rather large boa varieties sunning in the tree limbs, and large alligators and turtles were also milling about. The kids were able to catch one small grass snake who didn’t seem to mind too much being monkey-pawed. They let him go back into the woods, ’cause that’s what we do.
And of course, being so close, we went back to the beach, so the kids could get the wiggles out and go combing for shells.
And lastly, when John and I went to the local hardware store, John stumbled upon a dead Ruby-throated Hummingbird, most likely from entrapment by his surroundings. Their super-high metabolism requires regular refueling throughout the day, resting in a state of torpor at night to conserve that energy, lest they die in their sleep.
We brought him home and buried him proper, after taking a picture of that beautiful throat sheen, of course. It’s rare we get to see one so up close and personal. RIP, and thanks, Little Buddy.
Such a fabulous little bird. We are adding bird and insect habitat plants (natives, of course) to our yard slowly this year, and we look forward to seeing more of them at our nectar porch feeders on the spring migration back to the north. The real fun is in September when they return by the hundreds. Check it out for yourself!