A two day old report about a Sacred Ibis being spotted at the West Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility in Indian River County piqued my interest so I set out after work to see if I could find the bird. Here is a small sampling of other wildlife seen on the long hike around the Facility while trying to locate the Sacred Ibis.
Skittish American Coots make a splashy exit whenever anyone draws too near. They never go very far, though, usually ending up on the other side of the cell they started out in.
The Coots appear to be running across the water as they try to get airborne.
Blue-winged Teal accompanied by a Coot come in for a landing.
Note this Hawk patrolling the artificial wetlands has bands on each leg.
Great Egret in flight.
One of many River Otters seen along the trails or in the water.
The cryptically colored Green Heron.
Tricolored Heron in flight.
A large Soft-shell Turtle along the edge of the trail.
Sandhill Cranes forage along the trail.
This is a White Ibis native to Florida.
I was thinking my long hike around the wetlands was going to be a bust as I headed back to the vehicle when right in front of me I spied the object of my quest — the Sacred Ibis. The bird was standing right in the middle of the trail! My regret is the dark, overcast sky made photography difficult. Alongside the Sacred Ibis is a White Ibis with a very dirty bill.
At first I thought this native of Africa, once worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, was an unfortunate visitor to our shores, having blown across the ocean from Africa in a storm. Alas, the reality is not so glittering. It appears Florida has a small population of Sacred Ibis that are actively hunted to be captured or killed so they do not establish a breeding population of yet another intrusive invasive species crowding out native birds.
A native of Africa, it is believed the very small Florida population of Sacred Ibis all escaped from public and private collections in South Florida as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Sadly, this individual’s future looks to be bleak once bureaucracy catches up with it given the effective eradication of Sacred Ibis in South Florida.