Friday, April 17, 2015

Home Remodeling

On an earlier morning walk on the Long Pine Key Trail, we watched Mrs. Pileated busy with home remodeling. Of course, woodpecker are compulsive tree excavators, so this behavior is not confirmation that they are in fact nesting, but let's not allow science to get in the way of a good story.

She was busy drilling out a nest hole that could serve for her family when she was ready to get into the family way. The wood chips were flying!

Every so often, she paused to preen a feather or two, then resumed her home remodeling.

Then she would pause again and look around, as though asking where he no account, not at all helpful mate was.

Back to work.

Her mate, in fact, was quite close by, though to all appearances quite oblivious to the work that she was doing. He seemed content to find the odd morsel among the pine bark, and let her carry on with the house tending as she saw fit.

Good Birding ! !

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Magical Moments

A Magical Moment occurred when we walked the trail at Eco Pond near Flamingo in the Everglades. Butterflies had just taken flight, and it was as though we were walking amid hundreds of ethereal sprites. Southern Whites were most abundant and I wish there were some way I could have captured the magic of their flittering flight, but that is beyond the camera's ability (or at least this cameraman's ability) ....

Southern White
Other butterflies were also common around Eco Pond and in many other locations, providing many moments of  delightful magic ...

Gulf Fritillary

Julia Heliconian

Zebra Heliconian

White Peacock
And then there are the butterflies that are so nondescript and/or small, as to exist almost as a figment of the imagination ...

Two-spotted Skipper

Cassius Blue

Monday, April 13, 2015

Everglades Sampler

I am finally to the Everglades, a uniquely beautiful gem among our National Park system. Many of the birds introduced earlier in this extended blog series were also present in the Everglades. Here I give a sampling of birds not seen - or not photographed - previously in our south Florida travels.

A surprise sighting (and one noted by a naturalist in the Visitor's Center) was this Western Kingbird ...
Western Kingbird

Briefly we watched as 3 Swallow-tailed Kites soared and swooped overhead, a study of winged gracefulness, and one which I wish I could have seen more of ...

Swallow-tailed Kite

Alas, during our Florida travels we had only one encounter with a Roseate Spoonbill, but it was a treat ...
Roseate Spoonbill

The birds of prey were well into their nesting season. We saw Red-shouldered young not long out of the nest. In Flamingo, there were several Osprey nests which were active in incubating or feeding young ...


... and on two occasions, nestling Barred Owls tipped off their presence by hooting for food. ...

Barred Owl (nestling)
Not feathered, but still fauna, were these deer ...

White-tailed Deer
And finally, while driving the keys, we stopped at The Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary, a funky and fascinating rehab center. High in a tree, a Great Horned Owl kept watch over the visitors ...

Great Horned Owl

Saturday, April 11, 2015

More This & That - 2

A few more "un-themed" birds from Wakodahatchee and Green Cay - all friends who have returned, or will return soon, to my Vermont neighborhood.

Red-winged Blackbird

(Western/Brown) Palm Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-headed Vireo

Pine Warbler

Northern Harrier - female
Good Birding ! !

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wako and Green Cay This & That - 1

I don't have a "theme" for these, but I don't want to overlook them. So this is a first miscellany of this and that ...

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Double-crested Cormorant
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Glossy Ibis
(Florida) Red-Shouldered Hawk
Boat-tailed Grackle - female
A note on the Mottled Duck - this species is very closely related to the Mallard. There is so much interbreeding, that the species is considered to be at risk of so much genetic mixing that its future is in doubt in some places. So it was comforting to realize at the end of the trip, that I had seen Mottled Ducks, but no Mallards, possibly a first for birding trips.

Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Good Birding ! !

Monday, April 06, 2015

Wood Stork Building Materials Center

In a tree almost within touching range, and so close that my 100-400mm lens was almost too much lens, this Wood Stork tore off building material for its nest.

Good Birding ! !

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Gathering Nesting Material

In late February, the larger wetland birds in Florida were into their courtship, nest building, and sometimes even the raising of young.

Here are a few that were gathering nesting material:

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Good Birding ! !

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Purple Swamphen and others

The Purple Swamphen (gray-headed) is an exotic which probably escaped sometime in the 1990s and has since spread to many wetland areas in Florida. It has become sufficiently well established that in 2013 it was added to the American Birding Association's list of "countable" birds.

Purple Swamphen

A member of the Rail Family, it is closely related to the American Coot, Common Gallinule, and Purple Gallinule. A careless or casual look at the swamphen might lead one to ID it as a Purple Gallinule - one that has pumped up on steroids.

Purple Swamphen

For comparison, here is the Common Gallinule (aka Common Moorhen) and the American Coot ...

Common Gallinule
American Coot

I am concerned when captive birds escape; they can have a negative impact on native species. But I will say this for the Purple Swamphen, it has a very impressive tush ...

Purple Swamphen

Good Birding ! !


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