Alligator Farm Spoonbill Chicks Take Off!

I’ve found that one of the pleasures of bird photography and bird watching in general is the repeated observation of locations over the course of a nesting season.  When you return to a place regularly, you can watch the behavior of the parents over time as well as the young birds as they develop.

I’m fortunate to live relatively close to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Bird Rookery and I was able to visit four times recently.  This was the first year that Roseate Spoonbills have nested there and the farthest north that they’ve been recorded nesting.  In this post, I’ll show you a sequence of photographs made over about six weeks of the two easily seen Spoonbill nests at the Rookery.  Nest 1 is on the right side of the boardwalk closest to the entrance.  Nest 2 is the one you can see from the far end of the boardwalk close to the large tree.

This first photo was taken at the end of May and shows one Spoonbill above and to the right of nest 2.  At the bottom left you can barely make out  one of the very young and small Spoonbills.  This is the first photo I managed to make of the chicks.  Sorry about the quality.  The chicks didn’t come out in the open at all when I was there that time.

Mother Spoonbill keeps an eye on chick, nest 2.  May 30th, 2010

Here is the same nest (#2) two weeks later.  The chicks have grown a bit, have some beginning feathers, and are more active.

Roseate Spoonbill Mom and chicks in nest 2, June 13th, 2010

And this photo shows how large the chicks had grown yesterday when I visited  – quite a difference in only 16 days!

Spoonbill Mom returnsRoseate Spoonbill Mom and chicks near nest 1, July 5th, 2010

Several of the young Spoonbills have fledged and I was able to capture this photo of one of them trying its wings:

Juvenille Spoonbil tests its wingsJuvenille Spoonbill tests its wings, July 5th, 2010

So you can see how fast these Spoonbills develop.  From just hatched and barely moving to flying in about 6 weeks.  I’ve enjoyed following their progress this year.  What a wonderful opportunity!

The bad news for those of you that haven’t yet visited the Alligator Farm is that you’ve missed most of the nesting season.  Make your plans for next year!

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

About Ed Rosack

I live in Central Florida and enjoy exploring the area. I’m interested in nature and wildlife photography – and many other things.

I’m the chief reporter, lead writer, managing editor, main photographer, and publisher of the Central Florida Photo Ops website hosted at www.edrosack.com. You can also see more of my photos on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/

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