Sarasota News Leader

01/11/2013

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ASK OTUS FOR PART II ON HOW BIRDS 'DO IT,' LET US TAKE A LOOK AT THE AVIAN CHILDHOOD; THEN, ON TO A SNAKE QUESTION Dear Readers, The best way to explain how birds "do it" is by choosing a particular bird and highlighting its life ab ovo usque ad mala. I happened to be quite taken by a particular Great Egret (Ardea alba) chick that hatched late one spring. It was a bittersweet time in my life, when I had far too much time to observe nature rather than experience it. I was not "chosen" that spring. The world seemed occupied only by happy couples courting, fishing, nest building and mating, and having a grand time of it. I was actually kicked off my favorite oak branch by this proprietary owl couple intent on nesting in an abandoned woodpecker hole. The fact that this pair was my parents reclaiming their nest did not provide me much comfort. I moved my lonely, unloved, rejected little self to a smaller oak by the mangroves. It is more dangerous living by the mangroves because of the many snakes, rats, raccoons and other preying creatures also living there. On the plus side, the hunting and eating is good. The sweetest part is that my move occurred when Midnight Pass flowed and there lived and bred colony after colony of Great Egrets in the emerald aits amid the crystal clear waters of Little Sarasota Bay. I had a great view of them. Ardea is inside the middle of the three turquoise eggs at this stage. Photo courtesy Rick Greenspun

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