For the Birds?

Story by Ilona Merritt, Photography by Kai Rambow

Some information courtesy SCC History Society

 

When the greens of the North Courses were re-sodded in 1987-8, the chemicals used to fumigate the soil had been covered with plastic, but high winds and heavy rain washed the chemicals onto fairways and into lakes. The chain reaction was overwhelming.

Fairways were covered with dead mole crickets. Gulls flew in for the feasting, joined by Muscovy ducks and Mallards. Then there were dead gulls, ducks, fish, and turtles on the course and in the lakes in a few days. Who would clean this up? About 100 turkey vultures arrived to do the job while making the islands in the Middle Lake their new rookery. In 1990, a newly contracted company’s mistake of killing weeds in the North Course lakes created more food for the Vultures. The Island in Middle Lake had become a new rookery for about 100 vultures, the food that had attracted them was gone, but they decided to stay. They cruised the SCC community by day, perching on house roofs, church steeples, and porches. They would grab the asphalt tiles with their claws and create costly leakage problems. They attacked automobiles causing damage. Bacteria left by the birds could cause health problem… Something had to be done.

At the time, Richard Thompson, director of the Animal Damage Control Division of the US Department of Agriculture, suggested a solution. Shoot blanks to scare the birds away. Residents acquired state and a federal licenses. Everything they bought, used or shot, had to be recorded in great detail. Five residents on a silver pontoon boat sent stream sparks toward tall pines. The noise they made rivaled any Fourth of July celebration, sending black, hulking vultures soaring in every direction.

Fast forward to today, and the situation has taken a new turn. Many different species of birds have come to live on Egret Island in Middle Lake. There are still a few vultures, but the list of other birds that have made their nests on the island is long. Biologists who have visited the Island are amazed at the type of birds nesting near each other, because many would never get this close in the wild. Ibis, egrets, blue herons, tri-colored herons, anhinga, cormorants, and many more.

On a recent visit to a friend’s home, we sat in the back yard and watched wood ducks and cormorants guiding their young through the water, while a bald eagle perched high in a tree above. Yes, there are still vultures, and, yes, they can still be destructive. When some residents decided to bring back Mr. Thompson’s suggested solution, others pointed out that scaring those birds away would scare the other birds away, causing some adults to abandon their nests and their young. So, for now, the guns are packed away, and all the birds are free to hunt and fly and raise their young. Some residents would like to see Egret Island designated as a bird sanctuary. But, official or not, the nesting birds on Egret Island are just one more beautiful reason to love Sun City Center.

All Photos By Kai Rambow

Wood duck with 19 babies.  Wood ducks are very skittish and attempting to get a good photo is a real challenge.

Tri-color heron stepping away from the nest for a few moments right by the waterline.

This lone eagle likes to visit at Middle Lake perching on the highest tree.

Male wood ducks have amazing colors.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

January 2023 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

January 2023 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Discover why bird lovers flocked to Community Hall, save the date for the Volunteer Picnic on February 15; cruise with the Holiday Cart Parade, see how folks celebrated Christmas in Wimauma, enjoy the Shrine Christmas party, hang...

December 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

December 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Celebrate 60 years with the Men’s Club, mark the season with the Holiday Cart Parade, join in the fun of Lighting Up SCC, review the progress of the Long Range Planners over the past year, enjoy “Hi, Neighbor!”, learn whooo...

November 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

November 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

As we turn our clocks back (November 6) and look forward to fall, we hope you are doing well and excited about another beautiful month here in Sun City Center and South Hillsborough County. In this issue… After Hurricane Ian, our...

October 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

October 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

First and foremost, all of us at The News hope that all of you reading this came through Hurricane Ian healthy and safe. Our News team fared well, considering. A few trees and power lines down, loss of power, and the general inconveniences of temporarily...

September 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

September 2022 NEWS is HOT off the PRESS!

In this issue… Run with the Hemingways, explore the new ER at Sun City Center, take a Night Out with the sheriff’s department, see how SCC is Sprucing Up, celebrate Photo Club competition winners, get updated on the Long Range Plan, make some...

Local Lookalikes Run With the Hemingways

Local Lookalikes Run With the Hemingways

Local Lookalikes Run With the HemingwaysBy Kai Rambow “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” – Ernest Hemingway“There might have been some alcohol involved,” recalled Gary Mull.  Mull...