Dear Florida: What Amazing Birds!

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Dear Florida: What Amazing Birds!

By Carole Devillers

Dear Florida,

Photo by Carole Devillers

Why do I love thee? Well… your birds! I love your birds, Florida, your magnificent, gorgeous, resilient birds! I truly became aware of them when I moved to the Tampa Bay area three years ago.

My new passion led me to roam through your state parks, preserves, and refuges in search of wild rookeries – breeding and nesting colonies – and for the sheer delight of just observing and documenting as a photographer, how birds live. You have so many attractive nature parks, Florida, and some have captivated me such as Lettuce Lake Park in Hillsborough County, and more particularly the Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland. Depending on the season, one can observe an abundance of wildlife, graceful egrets, impassive Great Blue Herons, solitary Anhingas, nesting Barred Owls and Red-Shouldered Hawks, cotton candy-pink Roseate Spoonbills and a slew of other wading birds and songbirds. And in the spring, mating alligators bellow like roaring lions in the canal bordered by Spanish moss-covered trees:  a real Halloween-ish sensation.

My excursions into your wilderness, Florida, have given me fantastic opportunities to appreciate our avian friends’ resilience and determination to make it in spite of the odds stacked against them, mainly due to human influence. Have we ever pondered, seriously pondered, how they live, how they manage to survive in our tarnished environment, how they can raise their families in the midst of all this human chaos? Certainly, the way we live in our jungles of concrete must look like chaos to them. At one time we slaughtered them for their magnificent feathers, or for their meat, and now we deprive them of habitat, we pollute the water they need, we crush their eggs on your alluring sandy beaches, inadvertently or intentionally. We have no respect, Florida, for your beautiful jewels of the sky. And that’s because we don’t take the time to understand them, letting selfishness and greed take over.

Your birds, Florida, are amazing creatures that need our attention and protection and should not be taken for granted, lest they disappear. Let’s just imagine an instant a world without birds… you, Florida, without birds… How sad and different it would be! So, let’s open our eyes and our hearts to let the birds in. Not only will this benefit our winged brothers, but it will do wonders to our souls also. And you, Florida, will forever remain the wild and beautiful emerald casing that I love so much.


  1. Ruddy Barbara says:

    Carole, your letter is extraordinary. Spoken from your heart and fueled by your brain which has taken in so much from travel to the Caribbean ,Africa, India, France, Haiti and of course the US. Though you have lived in several States, it is clear to me that Florida stands out above the rest. I think your lovely book will be in a feature item in many fine places. I could not be more proud of you dear friend. Love you. Barbara Ruddy

  2. Grant Slade says:

    It was fascinating to read this collection of Love Letters to Florida. I was particularly touched by the letter from Carole Devillers, a relative newcomer to Florida compared to the other authors. Her love affair with the wonderful birds of Florida comes across very strongly, and her writing is beautiful and lyrical. In a short time she has become quite an expert in the birds of Florida. I highly recommend her book published earlier this year, Iconic Birds of Florida, This is a wonderful demonstration of her writing ability as well as her talent as a professional photographer. It is full of beautiful photographs and should be on everybody’s coffee table.

  3. Lois Troxell says:

    These articles are wonderful and sad at the same time. If possible, they should always be forwarded to our local and state greedators (legislators).

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