One of the highlights of a recent visit to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands was observing the behavior of a pair of Black Necked Stilts as they protected their nest. One of the mated pair was always on patrol nearby and as soon as it perceived any threat it would squawk loudly and should the intruder not retreat it would harass it until it left. Size was of no concern as I observed it harassing a great egret which was easily 20 times it size until the egret finally flew off.
I observed the roosting bird for quite some time hoping to catch a glimpse of the eggs and after some time it raised up from the roost and spent a moment or two cleaning the nest and rearranging the eggs before sitting again. I obviously was not the only one enjoying the scene as once I moved away I could see a crowd of nature lovers and photographers near the vantage point.
I was surprised to see a nest in such an exposed location and could only guess that this was a young, inexperienced mated pair of stilts. I remember telling my fellow photographer that "i was surprised that a gator had not got them already" and sadly that came to pass. Two days after I took this photo it was reported that the nest was abandoned, both the eggs and birds were gone, and a small alligator was now resting on the island. I know it was a natural occurrence in Mother Nature's circle of life but it nonetheless saddens me that this story ended so abruptly.