Not the plastic kind or the zoo kind

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As promised, more flamingos from the salt ponds at Sint Willibrordus.

From the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance, the Caribbean flamingo, known locally as Chogogo…

Curaçao also has a small but important colony of 200 to 300 individuals that arrived from Bonaire in the mid 1980s during a particularly rainy year. The Jan Kok salt ponds have received protection since 1999 due to their importance for the population. Curaçao flamingos also regularly fly out to Venezuela where food is more plentiful.

Curacao, a few more birds

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Brown-throated Parakeet, on a cactus in the small town of Lagun, Curacao.

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Saffron finches on a wire in Lagun.

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Saffron finch.

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Tropical Mockingbird. We are seeing and hearing these birds all over the island!

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One of the many pretty beaches in Curacao.

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And don’t forget another ubiquitous bird of the Caribbean, the hard working little hen!

First Curacao birds

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Crested Caracara on a cactus.

A few birds from our first day in Curacao, with more later.

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Bananaquit on a bookshelf in the outdoor cooking and dining area at our lodgings. The Dutch name for them translates as “sugar thief” – they will take the sugar right out of your sugar bowl.

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Flamingos at the salt pond in Sint Willebrordus. I have more photos of these beautifully colored birds to share tomorrow.

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A boldly colored Troupial after sunrise. They are New World orioles in the blackbird family.

Park birds, pond

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We went to Indian Riverside Park yesterday in the late afternoon. But why did I take so many pictures of birds! Oh well, because I love them. Here they are…

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Woot! it’s a Coot!

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I have never photographed and IDed an American Coot, until now!

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Duck, Mottled.

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Little Blue Heron, a grownup in its inky dark plumage.

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Snowy Egret.

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Standing still.

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That ol’ coot.

You’ll find coots eating aquatic plants on almost any body of water. When swimming they look like small ducks (and often dive), but on land they look more chickenlike, walking rather than waddling.

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The pond in the park was clearly the avian place to be.

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White Ibises, a coot and a Little Blue Heron.

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Also a few Cattle Egrets.

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A brief kerfuffle among the Mottled Ducks.

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Then all was well again.

Compared to other species of ducks, pair formation occurs early, with nearly 80% of all individuals paired by November. Breeding starts in January, continuing through to July and usually peaking in March and April.

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The male has a yellow bill, the female orange.

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Coots are tough, adaptable waterbirds. Although they are related to the secretive rails, they swim in the open like ducks and walk about on shore, making themselves at home on golf courses and city park ponds.

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Worth a read from Audubon.org The Sketch… The American Coot: A Tough-Love Parent.

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Bills can be swords, reminds the Cattle Egret.

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Cattle Egrets have broad, adaptable diets: primarily insects, plus other invertebrates, fish, frogs, mammals, and birds. They feed voraciously alone or in loose flocks of up to hundreds. Foraging mostly on insects disturbed by grazing cattle or other livestock, they also glean prey from wetlands or the edges of fields that have been disturbed by fire, tractors, or mowing machinery. Grasshoppers and crickets are the biggest item on their menu, which also includes horse flies, owlet moths and their larvae, cicadas, wolf spiders, ticks, earthworms, crayfish, millipedes, centipedes, fish, frogs, mice, songbirds, eggs, and nestlings.

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Another place birds find food in the park is from people. I was across the pond and couldn’t see what she was feeding them. The dogs were doing an amazing job of ignoring the birds… for treats?

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Another member of the Rallidae family (Rails, Galllinules and Coots): the Common Gallinule.

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The Common Gallinule inhabits marshes and ponds from Canada to Chile. Vocal and boldly marked with a brilliant red shield over the bill, the species can be quite conspicuous. It sometimes uses its long toes to walk atop floating vegetation. This species was formerly called the Common Moorhen and is closely related to moorhen species in the Old World.

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Whoa, those toes!

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A couple of nonnatives, Egyptian Geese, were enjoying the feeding from the ladies with the dogs.

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Ibis, ibis, goose.

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There are some feral populations of Egyptian geese in the area. They are probably more closely related to shelducks than geese. They were sacred to the ancient Egyptians.

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Facsimile Painting of Geese, Tomb of Nefermaat and Itat, ca. 2575-2551 from The Met.

A walk in Atlantic Ridge Preserve

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Sandhill Crane photographed through the windshield as we drove to Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park in Stuart, FL. There are a lot of these big birds in this riverside neighborhood off Paulson Road. They have a certain nonchalance.

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It’s a big park, 5800 acres in southern Martin County. It’s barebones too. If the phone line is busy to the Jonathan Dickinson State Park ranger station, as it was when we called, then you can’t get the code to the gate at the park entrance and you have to climb over the fence (and throw your dog over too).

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There is a map available in a box at the entrance.

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Our first bird sighting inside the park was this sweet little Eastern Phoebe at a marshy spot in the wet prairie.

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Phoebe fun fact: “In 1804, the Eastern Phoebe became the first banded bird in North America. John James Audubon attached silvered thread to an Eastern Phoebe’s leg to track its return in successive years.”

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Eastern Phoebes sit alertly on low perches, often twitching their tails as they look out for flying insects. When they spot one, they abruptly leave their perch on quick wingbeats, and chase down their prey in a quick sally—often returning to the same or a nearby perch.

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Bird #2 was a Bald Eagle! Slow flapping flight over wetlands.

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Speaking of wetlands, there were ditches on one or both sides of the flat sandy track and our dog stayed well-hydrated.

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Radar soaks his feet.

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Jungly, in that wet-dry Florida way.

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The view.

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Tracking. We saw signs of deer and wild (or feral) pigs but no encounters.

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A couple of miles in, John gets a phone call. Can’t we ever get away from it all??

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Wild thing.

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Sign in the middle of nowhere.

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Vegetation. Kind of monotonous in a beautiful way.

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Saw palmetto everywhere. Which is ironic because we want to plant some on our property and can’t find it available in local nurseries. Someone told us that the state buys a lot of it from the wholesalers because they have to plant a large percentage of native stuff when they landscape roadways etc.

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Pine Warbler in a pine tree.

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This is my first Florida sighting of a Pine Warbler.

I first encountered one in April of 2015 in my New Hampshire backyard, visiting a suet cake I put out: A warbler. And then again in March of 2016 nibbling my homemade suet dough on a porch railing: An Easter visitor.

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Tracks on the trail.

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We heard this hawk calling and calling and when it finally flew off its distant perch I couldn’t believe I got the photo with enough detail to ID it: it’s a Red-shouldered Hawk.

Whether wheeling over a swamp forest or whistling plaintively from a riverine park, a Red-shouldered Hawk is typically a sign of tall woods and water. It’s one of our most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.

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Also spotted, a solo Blue Jay keeping an eye on us.

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This common, large songbird is familiar to many people, with its perky crest; blue, white, and black plumage; and noisy calls. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds. Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period.

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We walked along a large canal at one point, the “Seawind Canal” according to our black and white paper map. (We also used Google maps on my phone to not get lost.)

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A nearby committee of vultures took wing and became a kettle of vultures as we walked by. Lots and lots of them, seeming to really check us out.

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Black Vultures have the white wingtips.

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During the day, Black Vultures soar in flocks, often with Turkey Vultures and hawks. Their flight style is distinctive: strong wingbeats followed by short glides, giving them a batlike appearance.

It was a 4.5 mile walk in total, with some pleasant vistas and a nice collection of birds. We will go back to Atlantic Ridge.

A morning sampler of driveway birds

From my front picture window by the couch, while sipping coffee, I could see a small flock of warblers moving through the trees so I went out in the driveway with my camera.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the Norfolk Island pine.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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Overhead, a noisy Osprey.

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Raptor-ous.

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I love that I see Ospreys in my neighborhood all the time, all year round. A day never goes by without seeing or hearing at least one.

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My town is on a peninsula between the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon. Good fishing!

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Turkey vultures too!

Royal tern

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Royal Tern, Thalasseus maximus, over the Indian River Lagoon near the Ernest Lyons Bridge that runs between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island.

The royal tern typically feeds in small secluded bodies of water such as estuaries, mangroves, and lagoons. Also, but less frequently, the royal terns will hunt for fish in open water, typically within about 100 metres (110 yards) off the shore. The royal tern feeds in salt water and on very rare occasions in fresh water.

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The genus name is from Ancient Greek Thalasseus, “fisherman”, from thalassa, “sea”. The specific maximus is Latin for ‘”greatest”.

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This one appeared to be scanning for fish but I did not see it dive.

Their pointy orange bills are distinctive and in breeding season, in late spring, they have a complete black cap with some jaunty feathers sticking up on top.

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From Audubon.org

Common along tropical and subtropical shores, the Royal Tern is a characteristic sight along the Gulf Coast and southern Atlantic Coast, less numerous in California. Aside from a few interior localities in Florida, it is almost never found inland except after hurricanes.

They eat fish and crustaceans like crabs and shrimp.

Forages mostly by hovering over water and plunging to catch prey just below surface. Sometimes flies low, skimming water with bill; occasionally catches flying fish in the air, or dips to water’s surface to pick up floating refuse. May steal food from other birds. Sometimes feeds at night.

Range map from Audubon.

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Not a lot bigger than a gnat

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in an orange tree, spied from along River Road in south Sewall’s Point.

First time I’ve seen one of these tiny fellows. I got ID help on the Facebook page What’s This Bird.

A tiny, long-tailed bird of broadleaf forests and scrublands, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher makes itself known by its soft but insistent calls and its constant motion. It hops and sidles in dense outer foliage, foraging for insects and spiders. As it moves, this steely blue-gray bird conspicuously flicks its white-edged tail from side to side, scaring up insects and chasing after them.

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A Black-and-white Warbler was nearby.

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And a few Yellow-rumped Warblers were in the neighborhood too.

All of these little insect-eating birds are winter residents, in town for “the season.”

White birds in High Point

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White Ibis coming in for a landing. These birds are all white except for black-tipped wings.

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They are wading birds, but also lawn birds around here.

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This flock is going to work on a nice green lawn at the southern end of Sewall’s Point, in the neighborhood known as High Point.

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White feathers, pink legs and bills, blue eyes.

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Probing for insects. I have seen them eat snails in my backyard too.

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Lawn aeration courtesy of these members of the family Threskiornithidae, the ibises and spoonbills.

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We see flocks of White Ibis often, wading in shallow water, walking on lawns, flying overhead.

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High Point should have an ibis on its welcoming pillar.

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Nearby, a peekaboo glimpse of the Indian River Lagoon and a Great Egret.

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Wading.

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A block away, one of the neighborhood predators.

Birds in a dog park

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Shrike a pose.

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Loggerhead Shrike at a dog park in Gulf Shores, Alabama yesterday morning, before our nine-hour drive back home.

American Bird Conservancy…

The husky, predatory Loggerhead Shrike is nicknamed “butcherbird” for its habit of skewering prey on thorns or barbed wire. “Loggerhead” refers to the large size of this bird’s head in relation to its body.

This shrike’s song is a bit like a mockingbird’s, featuring a series of raspy, buzzy notes and trills. Along with the bird, that song has become much less common. According to Breeding Bird Survey data, populations have declined by almost 80 percent since 1966. This trend coincides with the introduction of chemical pesticides in the United States.

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Great Blue Heron on the shores of Shelby Lake which bounds one edge of the dog park in Gulf State Park.

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Consider me aware.

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Radar had fun, before the long ride.

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LBH lift-off.

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Relocating a few yards away.