National Geographic : 1961 Jan
KODACHROMESO NATIONALGEOCRAPHTIC CnTIFTY At the beginning of this century Flamingo was an isolated fishing village of half a hun dred souls, including alligator poachers and plume hunters whose depredations wrote a saga of bloodshed, both animal and human. Today it is a busy park facility at the end of the road through the Everglades. Here fishermen's huts once stood on sun bleached pilings. Now a modern visitor cen ter, with motel, restaurant, museum, gas station, curio shop, and campground, caters to the public (page 124). Last year nearly 600,000 saw at least some of the wonders of this third largest of our national parks, sur passed in size only by Yellowstone and Alaska's Mount McKinley. Through the mangrove-screened water ways where poachers' rowboats once sneaked, sightseeing craft today take nature lovers to such heron haunts as Coot Bay, or to Cuth bert Lake Rookery, in winter the nesting area of some 3,000 wood ibises (page 129). Other trips from Flamingo take visitors Henpecked Father Gets a Lesson in Etiquette During the first three weeks after the eggs hatched, the male did all the fishing, bringing his win nings to his mate, who then of fered them to the youngsters. Here father, abandoning rou tine, neglects to drop the fish into the nest and, instead, offers a morsel to the nestling partly con cealed behind the mother (upper). She sternly shields her brood from their provider. Snubbed, father sits dejectedly (lower). He himself devoured the offering. Only when the nest lings grew older was he permitted to feed them. Mother serves a tidbit. Mouth agape, her offspring covers her beak and rakes in the meat. into the labyrinth that is Whitewater Bay, or out toward the Oyster Keys at sunset to watch flocks of white ibises, herons, and egrets flap in to roost from feeding grounds scattered through the park. Shallow Bay Isolates Eagles' Isle From Flamingo, Bill and I took a park patrol boat for the run to our eagle islet. Cutting through the shallow waters, our outboard motor churned up the mud from the bottom of the channel. In all its 850 square-mile expanse, Florida Bay seldom is more than 10 feet deep. At low tide its ex posed bars form a happy hunting ground for hosts of wading and shore birds. Like herons ourselves, we waded ashore at the western tip of the mangrove key, tying our boat to the lacework of roots and branches that made the thicket fringe a formidable barrier. Then we threaded our way toward the key's open interior and through the waist high grass and weeds of its long meadow.