It doesn’t get any easier than this. There is no need to travel or even go outside to do some bird watching on Anna Maria Island. In fact, at my house, sometimes the herons watch me at least as much as I watch them. As you can see from the photo, binoculars are not necessary to get a great close-up look at a great blue heron.
Anna Maria Island is a bird sanctuary. In recent years, important nesting of several species, including lesser terns, has taken place on the island shores near Bean Point. The area has been roped off so people won’t accidentally step on the birds, which are hard to see when they are nesting in the sand.
In particular, we try to make our yard a bird sanctuary, too. We use no chemicals on the lawn. When families of ibis wander across the yard, pecking the ground the entire way, we feel good in knowing they are not being exposed to pesticides or fertilizers. We have chosen not to own a cat or dog since our priority is to provide wild animals a sense of security on our property.
We do not feed the birds. We provide them with a large bucket of fresh water. Great egrets often come to the bucket, perch on the rim, and take a drink. The great blue herons frequent the water bucket every day, too. In addition to the water, they seem to like rubbing their bills on the bucket.
Many herons nest in the Australian pines near our house. Today we saw three large chicks in a high nest begging for food. The parent arrived and the chicks flapped their small wings and grabbed the parent’s bill repeatedly, demanding to be fed. Eventually we saw a fish come out of the mouth of the adult heron, and into the nest.
Some of the more unusual birds we have seen on or near our property have included a roseate spoonbill, pileated woodpeckers and magnificent frigatebirds. American white pelicans sometimes arrive at around Christmas, looking like angels. More common are the brown pelicans, wood storks, green herons, little blue herons, night herons, great blue herons, ibis, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, mourning doves, mockingbirds, cardinals, palm warblers, crows, kingfishers, ducks, willets, seagulls, cormorants, anhingas, skimmers, turkey vultures, and groups of wild parakeets flying noisily overhead.
Be sure to bring your binoculars. It’s a bird watcher’s paradise on Anna Maria Island shores.