Strangers in the Midst

by Angie DeLozier

Birding with my niece, on The Point of the Outer Banks many years ago, she gave me some advice that has resulted in many pleasant discoveries while birding. “When you look at a flock of gulls, terns or whatever, don’t forget to look over their legs, you might spot a stranger.”

This year I had the pleasure of attending a weekend 15th birthday party for the oldest grand daughter of one of my sisters in Puerto Rico. We spent the weekend in a beach house in the town of Aguada on the West Coast.  One morning, some decided to go snorkeling, so we all headed north of town and found a lovely cove which was well attended by people, vendors and Magnificent Frigate Birds.

While enjoying the sun, surf and birding, I noticed a group of pelicans following a very tanned man wearing a wide straw hat and carrying a small bag of treats, which he would give one or another of these pelicans on their return from following his whistles and hand signals to fly out to different perches around the cove.

As they got closer to where I was sitting, I remembered my niece’s advice and began scanning the legs of this group of  12 to 16 pelicans. To my surprise, I could see some blue specks within the tan ones, so I continued t0 focus until they were close enough for me to see there were actually two Blue Footed Booby birds in the group!

I had never seen anyone feeding/rewarding pelicans on a beach and never imagined you could do it to a Booby bird. Now what we did realize was that the pelicans would follow the commands of this man, but the Booby birds did not and still got rewarded! They finally passed our area and continued to the end of the cove. We left with a sense of satisfaction and feelings of wonder and awe.

So, if you are up for an enjoyable experience, and are in Puerto Rico anytime, make time to drive over there to experience this delightful circus show during the months of wintertime. The Magnificent Frigate Birds were so low you did not need binoculars to watch and we assumed that this man must do this often enough that he has a large following in the bird world.