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© David Aupperlee
It's late winter at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. Many birds have finished nesting, and young birds are everywhere. This morning, wind and tide have conspired to strand schools of fish in backwater ditches. And the birds are taking advantage of it. It's a feeding frenzy! White Ibises, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and American White Pelicans join in. Thanks to the National Wildlife Refuge System, these birds - and many others - can thrive in protected habitats.
Written by Ellen Blackstone
This is BirdNote.
[Calls from a colony of Great Egrets]
It’s late winter at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. Many birds are finished nesting, and young birds are everywhere. This morning, wind and tide have conspired to strand schools of fish in backwater ditches. And the birds are taking advantage of it. It’s a feeding frenzy!
[Splashing and slapping in water]
White birds, short and tall, line the banks of the ditch, barely a foot apart. Long beaks spear tiny fish – and sometimes jab at a neighbor [squawk of an Ibis & splash of water]. Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, White Ibises, and a young Little Blue Heron that’s still white. All feed at the water’s edge. Meanwhile, two White Pelicans patrol the center of the ditch, criss-crossing, flushing fish toward the birds on the bank. They grab gulps of water, shake their heads and swallow. [Splashing]
A momentary lull… [Slight ripple off] Then a Snowy Egret takes off, dragging first beak and then feet in the water. [Splashing] Is it teasing fish to the surface? It’s hard to tell, but the Snowies take turns doing it, and the excitement begins again.
Thanks to the national wildlife refuge system, these birds – and many others – can thrive in protected habitats. [Calls from a colony of Great Egrets]
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Today’s show brought to you by the Lufkin Family Foundation.
Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Great Egret colony  recorded by T.A. Parker; Snowy Egrets  W.W.H. Gunn; White Ibis  recorded by D.S. Herr. Ambient is from 59443.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org January 2017 Narrator: Michael Stein