Great Egret, birds of Florida, Cabbage Keys,

Birds of North Captiva, Florida, Saved From Extinction!

Birds of Florida Books for Kids

North Captiva is near Fort Myers in Florida. We love it for its no cars, just golf carts, island vibe, but the birds love it too as it’s a bird sanctuary. This wasn’t always so, certain birds were hunted to near extinction around the turn of the century when exotic feathers were all the rage to decorate ladies’ hats.

She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head! by Kathryn Lasky is a really excellent historic fiction picture book about the women who started The Audubon Society in 1876 in response to the devastation of birds for their feathers. There’s another connection for us. The women, Harriet Hemenway and her cousin Minna Hall, were from Boston. I always like to surround my girls with strong can-do women as role models. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

The Last Egret by Harvey E. Oyer III is an excellent chapter book about the true story of Oyer’s ancestor and the near extinction of egrets for their feathers. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Because there is very little to do on this small island — beach, pool, fishing, golf cart, ice cream — and that’s about it, it takes me a few days to unwind to even start to enjoy down time. I spent the first few days trying to get online to do bloggy social media stuff like a junkie. The plethora of birds outside was a welcome distraction that I decided to try to capture on film. I tried to get my kids excited about the birds but they were more interested in the dolphins that swam near the shore and around the fishing boat. The sharks were also an endlessly fascinating; tales of sharks swimming close to shore got them giddy with fear and excitement.

I bought new art journals and markers for each of my kids hoping that they’d start a nature journal. In my parenting fantasy, they would do this on their own. I even succumbed to buying laminated nature guides from the tiny grocery store on the island hoping this would pique their interest. Nope. It didn’t.

I am going to try again when the birds come back to Boston to keep a notebook and bird field book handy. We do get an amazing assortment of birds in our yard including Blue Jays, Cardinals, Robins, Wild Turkeys, and more. I am hoping that over time, my kids will find the connection of birds from their Florida vacation to the birds in their backyard to be, perhaps, one and the same.

Folding Guides – Birds of Florida’s Gulf Coast – 62 Species by Steven M. Lewers & Associates

They did fill their art pads but instead of birds, there are monsters, dragons, flowers, and their names written in bubble letters. Oh well, it is vacation!

So, it is for you, dear reader, that I present The Birds of North Captiva (That I Was Able to Photograph) …

Great Egret, birds of Florida, Cabbage Keys, This Great Egret is practically tame. He hangs around the restaurant at Cabbage Keys eating your hamburger if you are not careful! He goes by Floyd.

Great Blue Heron, birds of Florida, North CaptivaGreat Blue Heron hangs out patiently for hours near the dock by Barnicle Phil’s resaurant.

White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, birds of Florida, North Captiva, Florida, birdsWhite Ibis and Glossy Ibis eating side by side. I guess they get along. Nope I am wrong abo ut them. Holly says they are immature White Ibises. The darker one just hasn’t gotten its plumage yet. She says Glossy Ibis would be much darker. Ok, now I understand why they are together.

Brown Pelicans, birds of Florida, North Captiva birds, The Brown and White Pelicans fly like soldiers, powerful and fast. Weren’t they cast as soldiers in some animated Disney film?

Osprey, birds of Florida, North Captiva birds, HawksThe Osprey is such a good hunter. We saw one last year swoop down and catch a fish with its claws, and then eat it on the roof next door. Doodles and Jots lives in Cape Cod has a picture of an Osprey too. I took my photo mid-Feb. Her’s was a month later. It could be the same bird.

Laughing Gull, Birds of Florida, North Captiva, birds, birding, bird watching,I think this is a Plover. Do you know? It’s a shore bird. Thank you to Holly of Tropic Home and Family for the assist on the bird identification. It’s a Laughing Gull she says.

Willet, birds of Florida, North Captiva, birdsThe Willet was very common along the shoreline and surprisingly not afraid of people.

What did I miss? It was a one hour hike in, but I heard there is a nest of Bald Eagles with baby eaglets, a flock of Roseate Spoonbills, and Anhingas in this sandy beach plain area, not accessible by road. It was too far for my kids to manage, but maybe next year …

p.s. I highly recommend North Captiva Island as a family vacation or family reunion vacation.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I so love that area. I’ve only ever stayed on Sanibel, but I think I’d like to take the family to Captiva at some point. Seeing the bird pics makes me sigh.
    Craftwhack recently posted…Back Yard FaunaMy Profile

  2. Ann

    Yay!!! Thanks for the mention : ) That is cool to think that we could have photographed the same bird – your photo is amazing!

    Sounds like a great place – I have family in Naples so maybe next year we will have to check out Captiva.

    Especially love your Ibises and Willet!
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  3. Holly

    Yes! Captiva is a nice, relaxing place for families. I have been there and neighboring Sanibel Island several times. As a Floridian and bird nerd, I think what you have there is a picture of two white ibises with an immature white ibis that hasn’t got its adult plumage yet. (Glossy ibises are much darker.) And the bird you asked about looks like a laughing gull, not a plover, to me. Laughing gulls are pretty common on Florida beaches. Sanibel and Captiva get some really interesting birds, especially in the winter. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel has great birdwatching!
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    • To Holly,
      Thank YOU for the bird identification corrections!! I will update my post. I was just in Bermuda and while it’s a paradise, it doesn’t have nearly the bird diversity that Florida has. Thank you so much again for helping me with my Florida birds. I am an aspiring bird nerd!

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