Roseate spoonbills wading in the water. GETTY IMAGES PHOTO

Nature: Enjoying an afternoon of spoonbills

It was on my first walk in the woodland at the edge of a South Carolina wildlife area when I passed by other visitors on the trail and heard the word “spoonbill” several times.  

At the first open viewing spot on the trail, people were gazing intently through binoculars and camera lenses at a scene not far off. There they could see three roseate spoonbills resting in the vegetation in the warm sunshine.  

I had only seen roseate spoonbills a couple of times before in my lifetime on visits farther south. These birds are definitely exotic-looking and very beautiful with their pink feathers, generally large size and big, pink, spoon-shaped bills. They hardly look real. It was easy to imagine they were a bird Dr. Seuss might have created.  

I spent many hours with the spoonbills that afternoon. In such a perfect habitat, I also got to see many herons and egrets. On a lower branch of a small tree near the shore, a glossy ibis kept me company for hours. It was only a few feet away. I was amazed how the bird just sat there for so long, standing on one leg with the other leg tucked under its body and its very long bill tucked in its breast feathers.  

As I scanned the vegetation, I found several black-crowned night herons resting on the marsh grasses. The only smaller bird that afternoon was a purple gallinule searching for food in the water. It would come closely into view and sometimes dive enthusiastically a few feet away from me. Finding such an excellent viewing spot, and having the time to enjoy it, is one of life’s biggest pleasures for me, no matter what my age! 

A northern flying squirrel flying from a feeder with a peanut to take back to its den in a hole in an old maple tree.

Flying squirrels visiting an island feeder recently were brought to my attention this past week. I particularly like these appealing and beautiful squirrels not many islanders get to see. They are not rare, but their nighttime habits keep them pretty much unknown.  

My absolute favorite observation of them was one night walking from the Jordan Pond House back through the woods to the parking area at Little Long Pond. If you have walked this trail, you know there are big, old trees along the way. The flying squirrels were very visible that evening gliding from tree to tree across the trail in front of us in the moonlight. 

If you put some tempting peanut butter on your feeder at night and leave the light on, they may come to visit. It is fun to see them glide through the air. They are very appealing-looking mammals, and they make good neighbors. 

Send any questions or observations to [email protected]. 


Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.

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