Monday, February 2, 2015

Punta Gorda, Florida

We had a delightful Sunday afternoon in this little town on the Peace River.  I happened to see in the paper that Peace River Wildlife Center was opened to the public that afternoon and, given that I had been a bit curious about the town which is located 20  mile from where we are parked, it seemed like an interesting trip.  The center has approximately 2000 Native Florida injured wildlife brought to them a year.  They care for every creature from tiny baby squirrels to pelicans and herons, only exceptions are alligators and poisonous snakes.  For some animals whose injuries are too extensive, the center becomes their permanent home.  Those residents include sandhill cranes bald eagles, egrets, herons, hawks, songbirds, owls, brown and white pelicans.  The later group were being fed in the bird enclosure when we first arrived.
We were informed by the staff member, pictured above, that the pelicans came from outside the park, only 12 are in residence.  The birds are fed twice a day, and every bird around seems to know that fact, especially the black vultures, herons, ibis, and egrets.  We looked up in the trees above us and they were covered with the birds. Some of the birds hanging around were at one time residents and had been released into the wild.  Seems it is their home away from home!
Pictured above is a yellow-crowned night heron, he is outside of the cage, and a black-crowned night heron is inside.   Also walking around the grounds of the center we saw a great blue heron.
He was just stopping by for a drink of water.  Maybe he is the parent of the fledglings in the nest up in a tree which hangs over the wildlife center.
I would not want to be feeding those two babies!  A volunteer at the center said that they have been watching the birds for awhile, and the parents have been making strong vocal efforts to get them out of the nest and feeding on their own.
We drove around the little town of Punta Gorda after leaving the center.  It seems the town has a thing for old repainted bikes with potted plants in them, quite a novel idea!  The town's name in Spanish means "flat point".  It was founded in 1884, and in the 1890's was a major port for shipping cattle to Cuba.  Fishing has also been a major industry for the town.  In the historic district is a large shopping mall on the old city dock.  We visited some of the small boutiques there and had our supper at a restaurant overlooking the river.

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