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Pretty in pink: soaring with Florida's roseate spoonbills.

One January morning, my husband and I packed our photography gear and drove to J.M. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, which is known for its birding and exotic animals. The tide level on this morning was perfect, and large flocks of roseate spoonbills and white pelicans were feeding in the lagoons along the five-mile wildlife drive.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

While everyone else concentrated on the feeding frenzy in the lagoon, my eye was drawn to this spoonbill soaring past me, and for a single moment, we connected, eye-to-eye, through the camera lens.

Roseate spoonbills grow to approximately 30 inches long with a wingspan of 53 inches. They're found throughout Florida and are especially plentiful along Sarasota's bays, coastal marshes and mangroves. In the 1800s, they were hunted extensively for their bright pink plumage, which distinguishes them from other common sea birds, but today these splendid feathered fliers are protected by law.

PHOTO AND TEXT BY GARY AND PAT NEBEL
COPYRIGHT 2004 Clubhouse Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:outthere
Author:Nebel, Gary; Nebel, Pat
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:162
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