Ah, those feathers. Women feel so beautiful under wafts of dazzling plumage.
Personally, I think feathers look better on birds than haute couture. So did Frank Chapman who became the savior of pelicans.
Awkward and gangly on land, pelicans soar with unmatched grace.
The charm of every waterway is increased by the quiet dignity of their presence.
Chapman was joined by Paul Kroegel who served as a warden of Pelican Island, an unobtrusive little patch of earth huddled under mangroves and shrubby trees.
The island is a natural wonder, a rookery just north of me where pelicans return year after year.
Both men lobbied lawmakers to stop the plume hunters. Eventually, Teddy Roosevelt ~ loose cannon, Rough Rider, bird lover ~ signed an executive order declaring Pelican Island a federal bird reservation.
Pelican Island and its surrounding 5400 acres of protected waters and lands are known as the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Paul Kroegel is a hero of the wild. The National Wildlife Refuge was born on this tiny island of the Treasure Coast. It may be just a scrap of mangrove and guano-covered sand, but it’s a wonderment.
What’s found at the end of this rainbow is worth more than any pot of gold.
Veteran boaters call the Anhinga “snakebird” because it swims submerged with only its neck and head undulating above the waterline like a serpent. The lack of waterproof plumage enables it to travel effortlessly underwater in search of fish, but for every advantage there is also a hitch. When soaked to the skin, the Anhinga looses body heat and must find a nearby perch to warm itself after feeding. With spread wings and fan-shaped tail feathers drying in the sun, the Anhinga earns its other nickname, “water turkey.”
I’ve got a lot to learn about these birds, but I do know this. Anhinga Motherhood isn’t for sissies.