Calm Before The Storm
Things have been a little slow the past couple of days so yesterday afternoon when we went over to the salt marsh we were hoping to see some birds out and about. We quickly saw one bird who is impossible to miss, it turned out to be our resident cranky pants spoonbill. We always know right away it’s Mr. Grumpy because he is a brighter, deeper pink in color, and has the red eyes and greenish head which is typical of an adult spoonbill. He is the oldest of the small group of spoonbills we have been seeing this summer and apparently he feels that entitles him to be head spoonbill in charge, as well as head crank of the marsh.
When we arrived he was feeding by himself which was no surprise since he does not generally play well with others. He put on his full cute routine for us, stopping to pose a few times as he went about his business feeding in the marsh during low tide. As the tide was coming in we could tell it was bringing in lots of small fish and shrimp which the spoonbills love but that also attracted other birds. We thought perhaps Mr. Grumpy was in a particularly good mood due to the abundance of available food, so he got along just fine with an egret and an ibis who also showed up to feed.
The good mood was not to last long however… we saw a young spoonbill come flying in from out in the marsh and Mr. Cranky quickly saw it too. As the new arrival came in for a landing you can see in the seventh photo down how he was immediately irritated and started yapping and complaining before the younger bird even had a chance to land. What happened next was vintage Mr. Grumpy behavior. He went right for his signature move which involves a bite to the tail of the bird he doesn’t like, followed by a chase off attempt. Interestingly though, the lure of a potential big meal with all the fish and shrimp being in the area seemed to be enough to get cranky pants settled down, and he stopped bothering the youngster. Plus you have to give credit to the juvie for deciding he was not going to be pushed around and chased away from a jackpot food source so he just went right back to feeding and ignored the grump.
As the tide starts to really come in, the water gets too deep for the wading birds and so it’s time to fly off to the far back edge of the pond where they can stand around and nap in the shallow water there. As the two fly away, note once again how the older spoonbill has a much deeper color than the youngster.