Since buying our first condo in 1995 on Anna Maria Island, I have formed a mental image of seeing a wild flamingo. The flamingo is one of Florida’s famous trademarks and even today I still hold that image and think that by some miracle I will see a flamingo flying overhead or prancing nearby on one of our beach walks. Realistically, I know Flamingos are actually quite rare in the Sunshine State of Florida, although they did once inhabit the southernmost point of Florida about a century ago. Now they can only be seen at zoos and conservation areas. Although, recently reported on Feb. 21, 2108 in a paper published in the journal, the Candor, a team of South Florida researchers made the case that the conventional scientific wisdom of almost a century is wrong. They say, Florida in fact has flamingos – real birds, not the plastic kind. Until we know more, I will suggest one place in our area to go see a real flamingo and that is Sarasota’s Jungle Gardens (about a 20 minute drive from Anna Maria Island Condo Rentals – 601 Gulf Dr. N. Anna Maria Island, Florida 34217
After giving up my arduous search of a pink flamingo, I did get to see some true Florida pink birds, the Roseate Spoonbills at nearby Robinson Preserve. The roseate spoonbill is a large wading bird and just as pink as a flamingo. Not as tall or as svelte as the flamingo, their body is similarly light pink with an almost coral hue and the tips of their wings are a bright reddish pink. While the flamingo has a distinct down turned black bill the spoonbill’s bill is shaped like a long spoon. Both the flamingo and the spoonbill are social animals and live in large groups. On our hike through the preserve we found some spoonbills in a shallow muddy area and watched them “fish” underwater with their spoon shaped bill to catch insects and crustaceans.
We have found Robinson Preserve a great place to see the Roseate Spoonbills in Florida, specifically in the Anna Maria Island area. The best place to see spoonbills is on the 2.1 mile trail which is appropriately named “Spoonbill Trail” and where we found spoonbills looking for their dinner. While walking through the preserve, you’ll enjoy some of the best birding on Florida’s Gulf Coast, no matter the time of day. With trails for hikers, cyclists, and paddlers to explore, this family-friendly preserve is an excellent coastal destination. A variety of birds and wildlife can be seen throughout the preserve with its 637 acres of preserved coastal wetlands.
I do not consider myself to be a true bird watcher, I do not know the names of many of the birds I see, but I do get excited when I sight some of the beautiful, unique birds that inhabit this area. I was especially excited to see these flamingo look-a-likes on our recent trip and couldn’t wait to tell our family and friends. Whether you are a true birder or someone like me that enjoys nature, Robinson Preserve with around 100 species of birds is a great place for Florida bird-watching. And, maybe one day my image will become a reality and I will see a Pink Flamingo!
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