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Birds: for our wonder & admiration
by Chuck Geanangel

What is it about birds that evoke such wonder and admiration? For starters, the class Aves is incredibly ancient. Scientists argue that the Protoavis, the first birdlike creature, arose 225 million years ago in the Triassic Period. The well known fossilized bird, the Archaeopteryx, came on to the scene 75 million years later. Some 70 million years more went by before modern birds made their first appearance. The origins of birds are somewhat murky but many scientists today speculate that birds are just a specialized type of reptile with
feathers.

There are approximately 10,000 different species of birds on Earth and they inhabit almost every ecological niche. The African Ostrich is the largest bird which stands 9 feet tall and weighs up to 350 lbs. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bee Hummingbird of Cuba weighs only .056 ounces. It is estimated that there are 300 billion birds living in the world at any one time. There are about 220 birds that regularly occur in Polk County and over 160 species have been recorded at the Circle B Bar Reserve.

One of the special birds easily spotted in the marshes of the reserve is the Roseate Spoonbill. It’s hard to mistake a pink bird for anything else. Just a few years ago, the spoonbill was a great rarity in Florida, with a breeding population of just a handful of birds. Polk County birdwatchers were fortunate if they noted this unusual bird on their county list. A county list is the birders’ record of birds they sighted somewhere in Polk County. A few of the top listers have seen over 300 different species on their Polk County list. To do that takes a lifetime of patient searching because there is less than 490 species on the Florida list. The spoonbill is a success story for environmentalists because these spectacular birds have nested for the first time on Lake John in Lakeland in 2008.

 

 

Birds to Wonder

Spoonbills with their shocking pink plumage are easy to spot even in a bad day.
The Wood duck has an impressive mix of colors.
Photos by R. Munguia
 

115 Lameraux Road ∙ Winter Haven, Florida 33884 (863) 259-8497