Polk Rookery

My friend Herman sometimes takes my dad and me to the Polk Rookery. It's a great place to photograph wading birds at their nests. My favorites are the Roseate Spoonbill nests, and Brown Pelicans nest here as well. I've been asked to not disclose the location in order to protect the nesting habitat. You need a boat to get there, anyway.

Photography Advice

Early mornings and late afternoons are the best time to observe the nesting birds.


Polk Rookery Blog Archives

  • Sunset at the Polk Rookery

    Sunset at the Polk Rookery

    Herman took my dad and me on a boat trip to the Polk Rookery this past weekend.  It was my first time being there in the afternoon, so it was fun to see the nests that are not well illuminated in my normal morning light.  There don’t seem to be as many nests this year as in past years.  There are decent number of Wood Storks, and lots of White Ibis, but not nearly as many Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egrets, or Little Blue Herons as usual.  Some Brown Pelicans have nested there in previous years, which is unusual because this rookery is pretty far inland, but we were unable to confirm new nests this spring.  A couple of Great Blue Herons have fledged already, and my favorites, the Roseate Spoonbills, had several nests.  It’s always fun to spend time floating up and down the islands with Herman! This is primarily a Wood Stork rookery, only accessible by boat.  Islands of Brazilian Pepper provide nesting locations for hundreds of birds, and the water surrounding the islands provides protection from predators.  Herman calls the Wood Storks the “wise old men” of the rookery.  They stand grave and tall at the tops of …
  • Father’s Day at the Polk Rookery

    Father’s Day at the Polk Rookery

    Herman invited my dad and me out on his boat to visit the Polk Rookery on Father’s Day.  Activity there is winding down.  Many of the young birds have already fledged.  Recent rains have left the rookery cleaner — and less smelly — than I remember from the end of last season.  There was still enough activity to keep our cameras busy… :) The White Ibis and Cattle Egrets continue to nest at the end of the season.  Also the Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants nest there year-round.  We saw several White Ibis bringing in nesting material, and some sitting patiently on nests.  A pair of tiny White Ibises was sitting under Mom.  The baby ibises are black and look quite different than their parents. At the tops of the Brazilian Pepper stood many juvenile Wood Storks — wise old watchers, as Herman put it.  They stood watch over the rest of the necks, only breaking their solemn poses when breakfast was brought in by a parent. The Great Egrets are the first to nest, and some of the last to fledge.  It’s interesting how the smaller birds, like Tricolored Herons and Snowy Egrets, start nesting later and fledge sooner, than …
  • Nesting Season Winds Down at Polk Rookery

    Nesting Season Winds Down at Polk Rookery

    Today Herman took Dyeyo and me for one last boat ride in the Polk Rookery.  The nesting season has all but ended.  Most of the birds have left, leaving the islands very empty looking.  A few adults and fledglings were still perched at the top of the Brazilian Pepper, allowing for easier subject isolation.  It was supposed to be a very cloudy morning, but the sun surprised us with a few hours of good light.  All in all, it was a very pleasant morning. :) These two guys cracked me up.  The juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant was begging for food, fussing like crazy.  He flapped his wings and threw his head around, and the longer the other bird ignored him, the fussier he got.  I guess he didn’t care that the other bird was an Anhinga!  The juvenile Anhinga flew away disgruntled, leaving the cormorant with an empty stomach.  I guess the cormorant was hungry enough—or lazy enough—to take food from anybody.  I wonder if Mom was nearby thinking, “Go get your own food, silly boy!” The Black-Crowned Night Herons put on a good show for Dyeyo, who did take a few pictures of them today.  (The joke is that Dyeyo …
  • Father’s Day at the Polk Rookery

    Father’s Day at the Polk Rookery

    Dyeyo and I spent a nice Father’s Day morning with Herman at his rookery in Polk County.  That’s always such a fun place to go.  Herman’s little portable boat is awesome for floating between the islands and observing the birds. We started the morning with a Least Bittern – what a way to start the day!  He was completely out from under cover, posing beautifully—for just a second!  Then as we turned around in the boat, reached for our cameras, and tried to take his picture, he ducked.  This was the best he let me do.  (As he was hidden in the reeds, I had to choose between the “good beak” and the “good body” shots.  I liked the full body shot because you see his big feet.)  We saw at least two more Least Bitterns fly past throughout the morning.  Now I’m wanting to get back to Viera Wetlands to try for a “good pose”! The activity at the rookery has certainly changed since my first visit, when the birds were primarily constructing their nests, and we had a single set of Great Egret chicks.  Now there are only a few birds on eggs, and there are fledglings everywhere.  …
  • Spoon-Feeding at the Polk Rookery

    Spoon-Feeding at the Polk Rookery

    Herman took my dad and me out in his boat again this morning.  The Polk Rookery has changed considerably since my last visit in March.  Then the birds were building their nests, and Great Egrets, Wood Storks dominated the Brazilian Pepper.  Today the rookery was filled with fledgling birds of all sorts: Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, White Ibis, Brown Pelicans, Anhingas, Double-Crested Cormorants, and don’t forget the grackles!  There was constant action in every direction.  A photographer’s paradise!  :) My favorites of the morning were the Roseate Spoonbills.  There were at least seven nests, if I remember correctly, with several fledglings per nest.  It was breakfast time and we had such fun watching the head-bobbing as the babies begged for food! The poor parents were accosted by screaming babies each time they flew back to their nests.  I had to laugh when I realized I’d gotten this shot of the frazzled mother: A Spoonie flew overhead and landed in a nearby tree, closely followed by one of her offspring.  He seemed to say to her, “Ha!  Now I can fly!  You can’t get away from me anymore…now feed me already!”  …
  • Let’s Go Build a Nest! (Polk Rookery)

    Let’s Go Build a Nest! (Polk Rookery)

    Our friend Herman took Dyeyo and me out on his little boat this morning to a rookery in Polk County.  It was so amazing!  Unlike the Gatorland Rookery and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery, this one is totally wild.  There were hundreds of birds there, most of them sporting their breeding plumages.  We saw Great Egrets, Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Black-Crowned Night Herons, White Ibises, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants, Anhingas, and more. I’ve enjoyed going to other rookeries in previous years, but I’ve never gone early enough to see many Great Egrets still in their mating and nest-building phase.  They have such pretty bright green lores and lacy feather fringes. There are a couple of Great Egret nests with less-than-week-old chicks in them, and more are expected to hatch everyday.  You can find the nests with chicks very easily – just listen!  The baby birds make repetitive (dare I say annoying) calls to their parents all day long… The Wood Storks are busy building their nests, with some incubation already started.  They are fun to watch as they gather the twigs for their nests.  I observed a bird grabbing …