I know it’s only Tuesday and not Birding Thursday, but I submitted this for an Audubon Contest and thought I would share it all with you. Enjoy.
“In the spring of 2009 I took my first field technician job in Central Florida. I was told my job was going to be long, hard, frustrating and extremely dirty; studying birds in the hand is never easy. But, I never knew how rewarding it was going to be. I arrived with so much excitement, and was immediately thrown on an airboat. Being the amazing machines that they are, we jolted forward into the heart of Lake Tohopekaliga. The wind and splash of the lake water was amazing to feel, and leading us straight out to one of the most amazing birds on the lake, the Snail Kite.
I had never seen one in my life; I did not even know what they looked like until two months before I took the job. But the second I saw one, I knew. The slate black of his body was amazing, the vibrant orange of his beak, and piercing red of his eyes were unmistakeable. He took off into the air with the noise of our engine, his white rump reflecting the sun and harsh cackle filling the air above us.
I was speechless in his presence. I watched him in awe and then the best thing happened, there were so many more. First it was an adult female rising up out of the typha, followed by a first year bird, which was almost hard to distinguish next to the female. But one after the other, they soared into the sky, then back into the typha to hide away from our company.
I spent 6 months studying these birds across Central Florida and the Everglades and still to this day, cannot remember a time I have been more impressed by a bird.”