National Geographic : 1949 Jan
Wildlife of Everglades National Park birds by the thousands do indeed remind one of a Coney Island crowd-except that the birds are more modestly dressed. Old-timers from the commercial fish ing villages of Flamingo, on Florida Bay, and Chokoloskee in Collier County, still remember the plume-hunting days of the last century when the "bird on Nellie's hat" was a fad. Plumes from such birds as the snowy egret (page 89) and the American egret (page 98), as well as other birds, brought a pretty penny from the millinery trade. Since these birds wear the plumes only during nesting time, killing and "scalp ing" of adults soon threatened the rook eries. Courageous action by conserva tionists of that day brought an end to y the practice amid loud laments that they were trying to "destroy an industry." From then until the Federal Govern ment took over the southern Everglades, wardens of the National Audubon So ciety guarded the precious rookeries. One of these men is buried at Cape Sable i : with the epitaph on his tombstone that he was "Faithful unto Death." Some day, park visitors will be able to see the great East River Rookery (page 97); but today the only conducted tours are made by the National Audubon So ciety to Cuthbert Lake Rookery (114). "57 Varieties" at East River Rookery Only by boat can East River Rookery be reached out of Coot Bay Ranger Sta tion, and it takes an experienced boat man to make it by traversing the winding creeks, rivers, and numerous bays. Such a pilot is Barney Parker, who has in the past decade served in the area as Audubon warden and Fish and Wildlife Service patrolman and now is a boatman with the National Park Service. If you were to ask Barney what species of birds nest at East River Rookery, he would shrug his shoulders and laconically reply, "Heinz 57 varieties," and he is about right. First to come in December are the wood ibis, commonly called "flintheads." They are in reality storks. These huge birds are an inspiring sight as squad rons soar together at great heights on motionless wings or fly in military lines, their long necks and legs stretched out to their full extent, the pure white of their plumage in the bright sun con trasting beautifully with the jet black of their wing tips. Then come Ameri- Homer ithode, Jr. Louisiana Heron Has Florida Birth Certificate Having escaped fish crows and black vultures, this Ever glades dweller leaves the nest on unsteady legs and surveys a marshy world. Like the ugly duckling, "frizzle-top" will grow up to be a graceful bird. "Lady-of-the-waters," Audubon called the Louisiana heron.