Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lotherton Hall Bird Garden

A unique feature of Lotherton Hall is the extensive bird garden. They haven't planted birds in the ground. Rather, they've collected specimens from all over the earth and have them on display for the enjoyment of visitors and the preservation of endangered species. We enjoyed our stroll through the garden and saw many birds that we had never seen before.

First up is Demoiselle Cranes, native to grassland in Asia.

Demoiselle Cranes of Lotherton Hall

Next we saw a familiar sight. Pink Flamingos are common enough in Florida, though they are found in plastic versions all over the United States as tacky lawn ornaments. It's nice to see the real thing.

Poolside relaxing

White storks were glowing with the sunshine (or possibly poor photographic skills). The sign nearby said that the legend of white storks delivering babies originates in Europe. The storks would drop the babies down chimneys for expectant families. Wives who wanted to be mothers left out sweets on the window sill to signal where the storks should make deliveries.

Glow of bad photography or glow of pregnancy?

This next beautiful bird is the Superb Starling (no, I did not make that name up. Maybe someone else did and wrote it on the sign). Native to eastern Africa, these fellows are being bred to establish a diverse group at Lotherton for a future Africa exhibit.

Superb Starling (no ego problems for the bird since it doesn't understand English)

These White Faced Whistling Ducks must be a a dangerous lot since they are kept securely in their cage.

White Faced Whistling Ducks

Horned Owls are another American bird. They have an early breeding season, usually in December and January. They generally don't build their own nests but take over other birds' abandoned nests.

Horned Owl looking very sleepy; he's probably nocturnal

Speaking of laying eggs, the rheas must be in their breeding season because we saw these two characters in their yard with their clutch of eggs.

Rhea running

The eggs

The rheas and their eggs

Nearby we saw another caged bird who probably would cause lots of trouble if he got out, an Andean Condor! In ancient South American Andes culture, this bird of prey was honored as a sky god. Now the condors are endangered.

I think he's a sleepy god!

Uh-oh, I think he heard me and is not happy!

Slightly shorter than an ostrich (which is the tallest bird) and hailing from Australia is the emu. Though a flightless bird, an emu can run up to 30 miles per hour, which is very impressive and probably helps to escape predators.

Emus, which we have mistaken for ostriches before

Another pretty African bird is the Lilac Breasted Roller. They get the name from their courtship flights, a fast and shallow dive from high above with a lot of rolling maneuvers and loud calls.

Top Gun of Africa

From Asia is the Black Francolin, a game pheasant who only flies as a last resort. Like the emu, he's pretty fast on the ground.

Ready to run, as soon as he wakes up

The African Grey Crowned Crane comes from southern Africa and is the national bird of Uganda, featured on the country's flag and coat of arms.

You lookin' at me?!?

Less aggressive neighbor

We spent so much time admiring the birds, we didn't have time to see the actual hall at Lotherton Hall. Maybe on the next visit. I'm glad we got to see this unusual and delightful feature of the estate.

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