Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge

Those who know me understand my passion for wildlife and “jaunts in nature”. Glorious day when the weather allows me to venture out to discover beauty all over again. Today would be no different and this trail was laden with all types of butterflies.





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Pelican Island, located in Florida’s Indian River, was the first unit of the USA’s National Wildlife Refuge System!!  And today was investigating once again a piece of history, preserved land where once other famed naturalists and ornithologists roamed.  Thanks to them the path has been made clear, secure, nature protected and grounds now solemn.

It’s documented as many as 60 roseate spoonbills were killed per day on Pelican Island during the early part of the century; the “Feather Wars”.  Wood Storks, Spoonbills, Ibis, Great White Egrets and Herons were all close to extinction. Why?  Sadly they were being killed for vanity, feathers for expensive hats.

And here  I was  walking where these poachers tread and some great hero’s who fought for the slaughter to stop. As I ventured down the trail saw a lone bird, looked like a juvenile Ibis or maybe it was a Limpkin, hard to tell without any binoculars. Already looked totally nerdy with one 35mm around my neck and my 500 mm balanced on my shoulder, yes I was armed to the max. Was able to snap a picture before he flew off, actually it’s as if he was leading the way!

So when I got to  “Joe’s Overlook” I said a prayer entering to what felt like Holy Ground and as I peered over to the left what did I see but a lone Roseate Spoonbill!

That bird was looking directly at me, sweet thing. And then a lifer, my very first reddish Egret flew in!! There they were together and I just held my breath and fired away! Yup and not for a feather in my hat!

Again, overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment tears escaped from my eyes. If it wasn’t for the mosquito’s I think I would have stayed a bit longer. Definitely long enough to get as many snapshots as I could.

Making my way back towards home, looking up saw another amazing discovery, SPIDERS who made their web way above a human head! Again was giving thanks and thinking how adaptable nature is, intelligent indeed! They were feasting on flying insects, also on the trail signs of other predators and remnants of life. So much to discover here.

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It wasn’t until I started putting this blog together I found out a local resident, Paul Kroegel, who cared about the pelicans on the island became the staunch protector and enlisted the support of noted ornithologists, such as Frank Chapman, who helped establish the Audubon Societies. At the urging of Mr. Kroegel, the Florida Audubon Society, and the American Ornithologists’ Union, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an Executive Order on March 14, 1903 that permanently set aside the three-acre island as a wildlife sanctuary; and made Pelican Island the first National Wildlife Refuge in the US!  You can imagine my astonishment as this refuge was just a few miles from my new residence.

Since then, the National Wildlife Refuge system has grown to become the world’s largest network of lands managed for wildlife with over 500 refuges totaling over 93 million acres.

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
― George Gordon Byron

About Brenda

"Brenda adores the birds. She is enchanted with their grace, their beauty. It was the birds and being out among them that gave her the peace she so needed and forged a new passion She uses a camera to capture those incredible moments, to savor them and share them with others. For her the camera was freedom. Brenda spent her life healing others, and dealing with incredible pain and despair. The world of birds and nature and photography was what she turned to in order to see the beautiful side of the world" -Eric Curtis Cummings
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7 Responses to Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge

  1. Terri Warner says:

    Brenda, was stirred again by memories of those walks. I especially cherished those jaunts, memories of those feathered creatures will always stay in the lens of my eyes and never on my hats. My thanks to Theodore Roosevelt!

  2. bstibal says:

    Another awesome blog. A reddish egret?? How cool is that.

    • Brenda says:

      I was like ” Is that what i think it is?!!!” Thought I would have to venture to the west coast to see him!!! WOOHOO right? 🙂 It’s right where we were Betsy, a different trail which brings you to the other side of the Island

  3. baileyfrasca says:

    Reblogged this on SLC Nature Preserves and commented:
    Just north of us, the Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge in Sebastian

  4. Steve Windhaus says:

    Wow…………. What a beautiful collection of photos. Again, I ask where this preserve is located. In the end, I do hope you post some form of map that identifies the locations of all these wonderful locations. On another note, I have noticed the sudden appearance, in the last couple of months, of Rosette Spoonbills. I have to believe you will begin seeing them in the preserves as you continue developing this blog. I also recognize we are now entering a time of the year (winter) when traveling through these preserves will be comfortable and result in witnessing some beautiful scenes of flora an fauna. Great job, Bailey. We need to find a way to increase awareness for the wonderful job you are doing with this blog.

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