Close Encounters of The Scary Kind

joan marieStarred Page By joan marie, 10th Apr 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1evdwg7w/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

Our lovely lunch was invaded by some pretty scary looking birds. Dabney and I retreated to the safety of the house.

Enjoying Lunch

 
It was time for my mid-afternoon serenity break. I'd prepared a tray of chopped hot dogs, a big bowl of crackers, and put them on a tray with my camera. I grabbed my towel. My cat, Dabney, followed me as we headed to the small patch of grass between the pool enclosure and the lake.

Unfortunately, due to the lack of rain we have a sandy beach where the water should reach the grass. It only served to make it a little more difficult to get the food to the animals, such as the heron, from this distance.

I was ready to enjoy the beautiful sunny Florida afternoon. Dabney settled into his favorite watching spot in the garden. I spread out my towel, got comfortable and whistled. As I watched my regulars fly in, I went to the lake and slapped the water with my foot to send the same message to the turtles. They responded to the vibrations.

They are checking me out!

All ready to go, I began feeding my buddies when a flock of seagulls joined the eating frenzy. That's all right once in a while. They are greedy little creatures, though. Thoroughly enjoying myself, I never noticed the approach of an unknown species of bird. Quite large and prehistoric-looking in the head and beak area. I was thrilled to have a new set of diners. There ended up being three of them, altogether. I'd almost run out of food when I realized these huge birds were headed directly toward me.

I turned around, and Dabney, perhaps more perceptive than I, had retreated to a more secured area. The three of them, heads down and with very menacing looks, kept coming. I kept shooting pictures, figuring they'd be afraid of humans and not get too close.

Well, I was wrong. Without any show of fear, they came closer and closer. I kept taking pictures, still unsure of what species they were. We have a Sand Hill Crane sanctuary in our neighborhood where they stop each year on their migration. I thought maybe that's what they were. I wasn't too worried until the one in the picture shown got within one and a half feet of me. The one strange looking bird was too close for my taste.

As I continued to take photos, I hid my toes under the towel and yelled, "Mom, bring more hot dogs, please. And FAST!" She hurried out to the screened porch and saw my predicament.

"Be right there!" Mom ran back in the house for more hot dogs.

Afraid to move, I prayed that when they saw no more food, would go back to what ever evil place they hailed from, no such luck. By now, the other two were less than three feet, away staring at me with large black eyes, and sporting that horrid beak. It clapped together loudly when earlier I had thrown food to them. They didn't compete with the other birds only among themselves. The clacking sound of their beaks added to the ancient prehistoric aspect of these creatures.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, my mom showed up with more chopped up hot dogs. They gobbled up everything I threw. I tried to toss the pieces farther away, as to make my escape. By now, Dabney was nowhere to be seen. I found him later hiding on the porch. I quickly ran out of the second helping. All the time praying my fingers didn't look tasty to them. It wouldn't take much for the closest one to reach out with that terrible beak for a bite, while I was still holding the camera, afraid to make any sudden move.

The food gone, it was time to make my retreat. Grabbing the tray, I held up the large beach towel in front of me and slowly backed away. I got close to the door of the porch and made a mad dash for it. Safely behind in the screened enclosure, I breathed a sigh of relief. I continued to the farthest point from where they stood and watched them stare at me. Eventually, to my great relief, they flew away.

More are coming!

beautiful sunny Florida afternoon I immediately Googled Florida migratory birds, still believing they were some kind of crane. I became quickly frustrated. Nothing even remotely resembled what I had had my close encounter of the scary kind with. I call the USGS and they gave me an email address to send a picture to. I got a response the next day.

They are Wood Storks. "Not the cute kind that deliver babies," I thought. Wood Storks are an endangered species. Fortunately, their numbers are increasing. The adults are thirty-three to forty-five inches tall and have a wingspan of fifty-eight to seventy-one inches. The largest weigh around ten pounds. They have a little black on their tail wings and the end of their wings. It is the only stork that breeds in Florida. They seek places where the water has receded preying on frogs, fish, and large insects in a more concentrated area making it easier for them to feed. Which made our drying up lake a perfect place for them. I think they need to add hot dogs to their list. I was told to be careful and not attempt to take one as they are a federally protected bird, that it would be best to enjoy them from a distance. Well, I didn't need to hear that twice. I emailed him back and thanked him for his quick response. Also, that I was not leaving the safety of my home if I ever saw them again. One close encounter of the scary kind was enough for me.

Tags

Crackers, Duck, Ducks, Feeding, Hot Dogs, Lake, Stork, Wading Birds, Water, Wood Storks

Meet the author

author avatar joan marie
I have been writing since 2004. I enjoy several different genres and write about the disenfranchised, homeless, mentally ill. I also love to write about my two roommates. They are Dillard & Dabney McFurperson. I enjoy writing humorous poetry and shor...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Jerry Walch
10th Apr 2011 (#)

Well, JM, you had quite a little adventure, didn't you?

Your initials are easy to remember, JM, the same as my stepdaughters. She's a Jill Marie.

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author avatar Kathy
10th Apr 2011 (#)

WOW!!! Great write! Great pics! Great adventure! Great discovery! Great information!
B R A V O ! ! ! ! !

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author avatar Songbird B
10th Apr 2011 (#)

So glad to hear that you are still in one piece my friend, after that too close an adventure! Great Photos though, you brave, brave soul! A really well deserved Star Page, Joan Marie...Congratulations!!!

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author avatar joan marie
11th Apr 2011 (#)

Thanks so much, I was scared they would think my toes were hot dog pieces. They are dinasour looking birds. The one picture was taken when a stork was a foot from me. I was terrified. jm

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author avatar joan marie
11th Apr 2011 (#)

I took the pics with a point and shot. No telephoto lenes. That was how close he was.

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author avatar Retired
11th Apr 2011 (#)

Wonderful article and exceptional photos. Thanks!

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author avatar Retired
11th Apr 2011 (#)

Great story w/photos and definitely scary-looking birds! ;-)

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author avatar Delicia Powers
11th Apr 2011 (#)

Great pictures and story, well done!

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author avatar Denise O
14th Apr 2011 (#)

Bless your heart hon., Bugg would of been under the porch with Dabney, I promise you. Bugg might be a big, big boy but, he is a wimp. Wonderful writing and lovely pictures. Congrats on the star page, it is well deserved. Thank you for sharing.:)

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