The Lara Quinn Bird Sanctuary, Florida

By Abi King | Make Me Smile

Apr 13

bird Sanctuary close up

Birds. With one stretch of their wings they can soar and glide through the sky with a splendour and freedom that man (and woman) can still only dream of. They are majestic, magnificent and make driving home for Christmas seem insignificant when compared to their staggering migratory paths.

They also freak me out a little. Those glazed eyes. Those sharp beaks. Those clawed and clasping feet. I can’t help but feel a sense of malevolence and suspicion whenever they’re around.

When dealing with the plundering pigeons at Trafalgar Square or the scheming seagulls in Brighton, it’s a reaction that makes sense.

But I took these photographs at the Laura Quinn bird sanctuary in the Florida Keys. These birds were damaged, unable to fly away, unable to steal my lunch and presumably unable to peck out my eyes in a frenzied orgy of violence.

Or were they…?

What do you think about birds? Love ‘em? Or…

Bird Sanctuary005

I visited Florida as a guest of Virgin Holidays, who fly direct to Miami from London Heathrow. See the sexy disclosure policy.


About the Author

Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on

Ayngelina April 13, 2012

I am not a birder but these photos are beautiful.

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    I’m learning a new expression here, then. A birder?! I guess that’s the same as a birdwatcher…Or twitcher?!

dtravelsround April 14, 2012

I’m with Ayngelina — these photos ARE beautiful.

federico April 14, 2012

Fantastic photos!

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Thank you!

Pete April 14, 2012

All excellent photos but I especially love the shot of the feet clinging on the branch.

Camels & Chocolate April 14, 2012

I’m going birding for the first time in Panama next month! What lens would you recommend?

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    The birding expression makes me think of something completely different in Brit slang but I take it you’ll be birdwatching! ;) I’m not an expert, but I’d recommend getting your hands on the biggest telephoto lens you can manage to carry. You need to wait until they’re quite still to get a good shot and they’re very skittish once they see you approaching. Hiding behind trees and bushes also helps! Enjoy Panama – I’ve never been but would love to one day.

Christy @ Technosyncratic April 14, 2012

What a cool background on that third photo! And the close up of the feet is great. Lovely photos, as always. :)

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Hehe – it’s the wire fence. I switched to manual focus & concentrated on the eye of the bird, so that the fence became distorted.

Jenna April 14, 2012

I absolutely love birds. I even cried at the Bali Bird Park. A little odd, I know. Anyway, I would enjoy this bird sanctuary. In fact, the last time I was in Florida was when I was about 8. I should go back soon.

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Glad to hear someone in praise of birds! I was beginning to feel a little sorry for them…

Impressive photography. Animals are so difficult to shoot.

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Well, I did have a head start in this case as the birds were injured…It definitely made it easier!

Alvina April 15, 2012

Great photo’s. I have been to the santuary too. It is on my ‘Alternative Florida’ list. But we do have some great bird reserves in the UK. Recently been to Leighton Moss close to where I live in the North West. Was worth getting up at 6am for a second visit. The RSPB do some great work here and abroad.

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    I used to visit the Arundel Wildfowl Trust a lot when I was young…I seem to remember a lot of different ducks there (webbed feet, broad beak, much more friendly!)

Katja April 15, 2012

Absolutely beautiful photos but … I can’t bear birds. It’s their pecky beaks and their graspy claws and flappy, flappy wings. They give me the shivers. Brrr! (I’m a cat person, me. Yes, I know they’re evil personified, but that’s part of their charm, no?)

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Cats? Only fangs and claws to worry about there…much easier to deal with ;)

Andrea April 16, 2012

In theory, I like them, because I am a huge animal lover. In reality…they freak me out so much! A bird park sounds really unpleasant to me. I love seeing photos of birds though, I just don’t want them flying over me or touching me. Thanks for sharing your photos so I don’t have to go there! :)

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Many of them are behind fences if that makes you feel any better! (The swirling pattern on the photo just beneath the feet is the lattice of the fence through manual focus.) On the whole, though, I’m with you. In theory, I like them. In reality…I brace myself!!

Abby April 16, 2012

Love this! I went to the University of Miami, and while our team was the “Hurricanes,” our mascot was Sebastian the Ibis. People made fun — but he was fierce! Glad you enjoyed the Keys!!

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Sebastian the Ibis. And people made fun?! ;) Loved the Keys – so much more there than I would have imagined.

Erica April 16, 2012

RAWR this makes me want a nice lens!

    Abi King April 17, 2012

    Hehe! I had lens envy at the park – I was there with some ultra-serious photographers!

Birds may appear a little creepy, but we still love them (we even have a Bird Aviary in our Wildlife Park)! Our personal favorite image is the last one–nice shot!

Raul (@ilivetotravel) September 25, 2013

Beautiful pictures!!

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