N 25° 1’56.73″ W 80°30’14.18″ Google Earth location
It’s easy to think that it’s almost a waste of time providing this location, because nothing like this brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is likely to be found there 99% of the time, but this may not be true; this was taken within the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier, a facility for both wild bird rehabilitation and the care of captive, unreleasable avians. It was, specifically, on the roof near a large ‘public’ area for the birds, where many rehabilitated patients congregated to receive food handouts, able to be off on their own but, in many cases, unwilling to leave until their flock passed back through on their migrations. Or simply unwilling to leave because free food and no other immediate demands, of which many of the truly wild, uninjured local birds would partake as well, when they could get away with it. The staff tended to recognize their former charges, though, and avoided feeding the freeloaders. So was this a recovered patient, or a wild bird hoping to snag an easy meal? You got me, but it was the closest I’d been to a brown pelican, providing a nice portrait pose, and I’m pretty sure is still the closest that I’ve managed, 24 years later.
This spot also provided the first, and so far only, time that I’ve seen a great white heron, and following the paths down to the sound provided a nice tableau, as well as one of the images still in use on my business cards – I had just decided on the “Wading-In” name and so was keeping an eye out for example images. The opportunities are rife, is what I’m saying, and it’s an easy stop on your way through the Keys, so no reason to let it slide past. Not to mention that the cause is a good one, so be sure to donate a few bucks while there – or, you know, even if you don’t get the chance to go.