Much skill and years of experience are needed to capture the
prized egret and the "long white". The latter, believed by some to be the
lost Bird of Paradise, is hard to distinguish from the common heron
while feeding. The track used is to clap the hands loudly in order to
scare up the birds. The 'long whites" will immediately go into a series of
somersaults. Eighteen-inch plumes, disturbed by their frightened
acrobatics, fluff out, resulting in a dead give-away and a dead bird.
When the bird is shot down, the entire back is skinned off. This is
because the longest plume grown above the tail.
Plume birds do not make good eating, but the flesh of the great
grey hellower, a sand crane, is considered a delicacy. The hellower,
larger than a turkey, a powerful and hard fighter, builds its nest in the
willows growing in the center of ponds filled with scum and water
grasses, surrounded by sawgrass and flags. The willows often support
hundreds of these nests, which are flat-topped.
To preserve various species of rare birds, a number of the Florida
Keys have been set aside as bird sanctuaries. These have been included
in the proposed Everglades National Park, which started with Royal
Palm State Park, as a nucleus, and now includes most of the extreme
southern part of the State.
Authorized by Congress in 1934, it contains 1,300,000 acres
of the only tropical area within the Continental United States.