Our Only Native Stork in North America


North American Wood Stork

This bald headed Southeastern United States wading bird in all its glory and bizarreness hasn't really been given its due appreciation, in my humble opinion.

Relating to this bird with pure emotion, and also in character with my adoration and respect for all wildlife, I see this bird as beautiful.  Look at this creatures prehistoric looking head, it's awesome and awkward at the same time. And because the wood stork has gotten sort of a bum rap in the "good looks" gene pool, no doubt undeservedly, I decided to feature all of its loveliness and make him the cover photo of my 2018 Wildlife Calendar.

I decorate him with favor for returning to southwest Florida to breed after a about a two year absence. Welcome back my featherless headed friend. 

In this photographic image this wood stork is enjoying a little late afternoon sunshine after a day of dining on minnows, frogs, and crayfish from what I could tell. Leading the troop, he began exiting a grassy marsh pond with a flock of friends and family who were gingerly lagging behind. This gave me the perfect opportunity to capture this ones style and essence as they all silently retreated into the shadows.

©Marc Harris/MarcHarrisWildlife   

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The Dance of the Sandhill Crane


There are several theories about why Sandhill Cranes dance. The most widely accepted theory is that the dance is a mating ritual. 

However, even Juvi's have been known to join in on the fun.

Maybe that's the real answer...they dance because it's fun.


©Marc Harris/MarcHarrisWildlife   

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Sandhill Cranes Mate For Life

The majestic sandhill crane.

This 2017 breeding season many sandhill cranes made a Florida inland marsh their breeding home. There were rock island beds to keep their nests relatively safe from coyotes, bobcats and other ground predators but the attentive parents still had many dangers to face every day.

I set up my hidden blind area at the rounded tip of a land jetty that allowed me to observe one particular mating pair. Their colorings were significantly different as well as their nesting behaviors so it was easy for me to tell them apart whether they were together or one of them was off taking a break from the two eggs they were caring for.
On March 31st the eggs hatched and two colts were born. Within 8 to 12 hours both little ones were being led away from the nest by the parents, across the muddy marsh to begin their rigorous struggle and perseverance for what would be a life of survival. The first trek to the edges of the marsh bank for the two tiny birds was amazing. With Mom and Dad urging them forward they would drop from exhaustion but the family bond of encouragement made them stronger as they struggled through the muck in preparation for life in the wild. 
The siblings bonded immediately and at four days old when the weaker of the two was having difficulty keeping up, the stronger one would rush to the rescue and insist the little one keep moving. It was incredibly touching to watch the dynamics and the roles they assumed as one family.
Every morning at sunrise the family left the nesting site for long treks through the forest. 
As of April they had one surviving colt that was doing quite well despite the fact that it was the weaker and smaller of the two hatchlings. I watched it start to fly just a little to keep up with the parents. The family of three made it through the season and I returned often to witness the love, knowledge and survival skills they imparted upon their colt as she grew into her legs and became as beautiful as her Mom and Dad. 
As this noble and elegant family continues to make their way through life I hope to see them again soon.

Bald Eagle Behavior



An apparent female bald eagle was enjoying her meal while her mate circled above to keep nearby vultures and other birds of prey from interrupting her. Meanwhile, in the skies above, a juvenile bald eagle showed up with interest in joining in on the feast. The male eagle immediately began chasing the juvenile in an aerial showdown. This left the female unattended and I witnessed her begin to scream and scream. 

I patiently watched from the pine flats. When the male returned just moments later she decided she was over the whole scenario and flew off.

As I moved on, looking behind me, no other bird had mustered up the courage to pick up where this regal hunter had left off. 

I thought to myself, just give them time.


Photo ©Marc Harris/Marc Harris Wildlife



Where Have All The Ibis Gone?


I speak more specifically about the American white ibis. Genus: endocimus albus; Family: ibises and spoonbills.

Most common in the deep southern regions of the United States, the white ibis is one of the most numerous wading birds in Florida. Adults are mostly white with black tipped wings, red face and legs and a very distinctive downturned pink bill.

Originally found in numbers reportedly as high as in the thousands across the Everglades, the white ibis has turned to urban life all over Florida in order to adapt. Their population is much lower today than in past decades due to loss of feeding and nesting habitats.  In spite of the perils they face they can be seen everywhere from backyards, golf courses, parks and shorelines, looking for insects or probing for prey. But the question I still ask myself most is... will they return to the subtropical wilderness of the Everglades or will they continue to exist as a social bird among people?

Photo title: "White Ibis Sunrise"

Photo location: Coastal region of Southwest Florida

Photo description: Ibis in flight, silhouetted against a shoreline morning sunrise with the water's reflection capturing the peach colored sky painted by Mother Nature.

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(I personally recommend the matte paper)

©Marc Harris/MarcHarrisWildlife