Please watch out for local wildlife while driving

December 27, 2019
By Marcy Shortuse

To the Editor and all users of Gasparilla Road:
I am so saddened every time I see a dead bird on the side of the road, an obvious victim of a car strike. I want to make people aware of the fact that the larger birds (egrets, ospreys, hawks, owls) need MUCH more room in order to fly up to a high enough level to clear a car/truck. Think of them as large planes taking off. I’ve seen two victims just in the last week: what was once a gorgeous red-shouldered hawk (who still lies squashed on the road) and just to the north lies a mangled great egret.
Great egrets are often lurking near bushes very close to the road, looking for lizards – when you see them, please slow down in case they decide to take off or stroll across the road in front of you. Ospreys will swoop down to grab nesting materials by the road. Hawks are often hanging out on telephone wires along roads, looking for prey below. Owls are very tough to see at night and are becoming much more active as nesting season approaches.
I have witnessed a truck hitting a bald eagle as it was trying to get airborne after picking up a dead rabbit in the middle of the road. The driver thought the eagle would be able to get out of the way.
If you do strike a bird, please pull over and check if they are still alive. Keep an eye on them and call the fire dept. as they know how to handle birds.
If you strike a small bird or see one (still alive), please stop and pick it up and place it in a quiet place, as far from the road as possible – they are often just stunned and need time to “regroup.”
So my plea to all drivers of Gasparilla Road: WATCH OUT FOR THE BIRDS!
Thank you!
Dorsey Dumas
Boca Grande