We were looking to get away for a couple of days but didn't want to drive far from Dunedin. We researched fun destinations nearby and found many an easy drive away. We chose Sanibel Island for its largely preserved island with great biking, paddling, and birding.
The first morning, we rented a canoe at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and headed straight for the rookeries. We were not disappointed!
Baby pelicans everywhere! I have never seen baby pelicans and they do delight.
Pelicans incubate their eggs with the skin of their feet, standing on the eggs to keep them warm. I read that the brown pelican almost went extinct in the 60's and 70's because of pesticides. The pesticides caused the egg shells to thin so much that the parents' feet ended up crushing the compromised eggs. Thankfully, the brown pelican has made a comeback due to pesticide regulations.
This juvenile pelican is growing so fast! The babies fledge only 10-12 weeks after hatching though they will stay with their parents for some time. These amazing birds will live for 15-25 years in the wild.
We also saw baby anhingas. Gorgeous, shy babies! This was the only shot I was able to get as both the babies retreated quickly into the trees.
Look at these precious yellow crowned night herons!
They are beyond adorable with their bright yellow-orange eyes and spiking head feathers.
By far, my favorite discovery was the black-necked stilt. I had never heard of the stilt much less seen one. We found a brood of these babies wandering in the Tarpon Bay Explorers parking lot at Ding Darling. Those long legs and sweet eyes slay me!
Both mom and dad were flying above the babies trying to urge them away from the parking lot. I'm grateful they were there or we would have never seen these glorious birds.
This juvenile ibis wasn't too concerned about being followed for a few minutes. It was foraging on its own but the parents were nearby.
Countless birds are nesting in Sanibel and more babies are on the way.
Be on the look out for my next blog post where I will share more images from our trip and if you have an opportunity, do visit this wonderful island and spend some time in Ding Darling Refugee It is a treasure.
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