Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cape Coral Wild

Sorry 'bout the blurriness.
I did some day tripping last weekend and this week. Not out in the depths of wild and woolly Nature, but right here in the guts of Cape Coral. See, this city, blight on the world that I think it is, is huge, and only partly built out. Much of the northern half of this sprawling town (second largest in area in FL) is quite sparsely developed, with only one or two homes per block. Some blocks have no houses at all. I could rant about the leveling of whole forests for neighborhoods that won't be built, at best, for several decades, if ever... but I'll try to contain myself.

I had discovered through the wonders of the interwebs that there are several bald eagle nests here in Cape Coral; being a threatened species, many all over Florida are documented and monitored. So I went to see one, having also learned that in Florida, bald eagles begin breeding in October or so, meaning the new crop of eaglets are about to fledge. If I wanted to see some young eagles in a nest, I'd best go soon, or I'd have to wait until next winter.

Note the homes nearby. The block this tree is on is
undeveloped and so long as the nest is there, off limits.
(I also found this website, the southwest florida eagle cam, set up in North Fort Myers on the property of, of all places, a real estate group. I watched for several hours one day while I was doing other things, and was lucky to see a parent bring back an egret it'd caught, which it and the two kids tore apart right on camera. Some would call it gruesome, but I found it engrossing).

Another day took me, again, to the northern reaches of Cape Coma, this time to see another threatened species. We have several around here, as I'm sure many places do, given the rampant habitat loss across the nation. Some I see all the time: wood storks are relatively common around here, and bald eagles too can be easy to find, in the right areas. There are burrowing owl burrows all over the place, many marked out with white stakes so they aren't mown over. I have four burrows right in my neighborhood. Unoccupied this year, unfortunately.

Hey. Yeah, you. Gimme all your cashews and no one gets hurt.
But the Florida Scrub Jay, these are found only in this state, and only on quite specific habitat, namely, Florida Scrub, a habitat that has nearly disappeared in the state thanks to development. While I was watching the eagles, I was surfing around and discovered that the Cape has a couple families of them, and with a bit more research, I located them. Apparently there is supposed to be a park created for them, but since the city has no money anymore since the only industry in SW Florida (housing) collapsed, so I think the plan is in limbo. Still, the birds remain.

What, what is it? Is there something on my face?
So I drove up there to try to get a look; before I'd even stopped my forward motion one of the blue devils was barreling through the air towards my truck. Apparently, these are the friendliest birds in the whole world, with no hesitation at all. This is probably bad, being so trusting of us duplicitous humans, yet, it worked out for me this day. I actually had some cashews with me and shared them with two of the jays, and I enjoyed that one of them would fly right up onto my hand to pick the cashews from my palm. I've never seen a wild bird up close like that.

nom nom nom
I know I shouldn't have done it, and I usually don't do such things, this feeding of wildlife, especially threatened species. Obviously, this probably goes a long way toward explaining their friendliness, it's more of a habituation really. On the other hand, though, if I can pass a few calories to birds living in a place with little resources for them to live, where the developers are just dying to make more cookie-cutter houses, once the market comes back (as if), well, so be it and good luck to them. The birds, that is.


  1. I feel the same way about feeding birds, but as you said, humans don't leave them much room. If a few of us can help them get through the bottleneck then so be it.

    We have Western Scrub Jays here. They look almost the same as the Florida Scrub Jays. They're also just as smart and gregarious, too. Never had one perch on my head, though. That's a great shot.

  2. That's pretty cool that bird landing on your head. I've fed the birds on numerous occasions, but never had one get that friendly. Must have been a fun experience.

    1. it's actually the second time a bird has landed on my head. The other time, I was mixing cement in a wheelbarrow, standing next to the guy's water fountain, and a mockingbird, apparently tired of waiting for me to clear out so he could get a drink, landed on my head for a few seconds, before he flew onto the fountain for his water. Crazy times, man.