Kestrel at sunset

SONY DSC

Falcon at sunset, on the tip top of a neighbor’s palm. This is an American Kestrel, to be exact.

SONY DSC

The American kestrel usually hunts in energy conserving fashion by perching and scanning the ground for prey to ambush, though it also hunts from the air. It sometimes hovers in the air with rapid wing beats while homing in on prey. Its diet typically consists of grasshoppers and other insects, lizards, mice, and small birds (e.g. sparrows). This broad diet has contributed to its wide success as a species.

SONY DSC

This kestrel arrived back in the neighborhood a month or so ago. I often see it in this exact spot, sometimes for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Seems like a pretty chill little raptor.

Last year: Angel on top of the tree.

Duck, duck, duck

SONY DSC

White duck in a small pond in a small park near downtown Stuart.

SONY DSC

Two Pekin-like probably-domestic ducks and a mottled part-or-all mallard. They crossed the pond to see if we had food. We did not.

SONY DSC

The white ducks bills were different colors, reminding me of Mottled Ducks where the male has a yellow bill and the female’s is orange.

SONY DSC

These are not “wild” birds, though I doubt anyone owns them.

SONY DSC

Sorry, no bread or crackers for you.

Not flamingos

SONY DSC

Roadside Roseate Spoonbills.

DSC02569.jpg

They are doing some work next to A1A, Ocean Blvd, on Hutchinson Island, not far from the bridge to Sewall’s Point. The disturbed earth and drainage ditch water have been attracting wading birds including these spoonbills.

SONY DSC

Pretty pink feathers but a little bit ugly on top, especially when they go bald as adults.

SONY DSC

These birds were mostly just standing around when we pulled over and I jumped out of the car for a few photos, on the way home from Publix.

SONY DSC

What a unique bill!

This species feeds in shallow fresh or coastal waters by swinging its bill from side to side as it steadily walks through the water, often in groups. The spoon-shaped bill allows it to sift easily through mud. It feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts and very small fish ignored by larger waders.

SONY DSC

Roseate Spoonbills are members of the ibis and spoonbill family, Threskiornithidae.

SONY DSC

Roseate Spoonbills are pink because of the pigments in the food they eat, same as flamingos. But that doesn’t really explain why other birds that eat shrimp and crustaceans don’t turn pink.

SONY DSC

Pink legs too.

SONY DSC

They are shaped a lot like ibises.

SONY DSC

Here are a couple of White Ibis nearby for comparison.

SONY DSC

There was also a Tri-Colored Heron across the ditch.

SONY DSC

Five spoonbills altogether.

SONY DSC

The heron was noisy.

SONY DSC

Pink feathers in afternoon sun.

SONY DSC

See you all around, I hope.

Airshow raptors

SONY DSC

Red-tailed Hawk at the Stuart Airshow yesterday. Treasure Coast Wildlife Center brought some raptors to visit with us fans of flight.

DSC02242.jpg

Red-tails are a favorite bird of mine.

800px-Red-tailed_Hawk_(Audubon)

Red-tails engaging in an inflight battle over prey, John James Audubon.

SONY DSC

Crested Caracara. I have yet to see one of these in the wild, but Florida is the place to do it.

All About Birds…

A tropical falcon version of a vulture, the Crested Caracara reaches the United States only in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It is a bird of open country, where it often is seen at carrion with vultures.

SONY DSC

Audubon Field Guide…

Related to the typical falcons, but very different in shape and habits. The Crested Caracara is a strikingly patterned, broad-winged opportunist that often feeds on carrion. Aggressive, it may chase vultures away from road kills. Widespread in the American tropics, it enters our area only near the Mexican border and in Florida. “Caracara” comes from a South American Indian name, based on the bird’s call.

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 7.50.35 AM

DSC02248.jpg

Peregrine falcon.

SONY DSC

The falcon with Gracie the bald eagle beyond.

SONY DSC

Red-shouldered Hawk.

I saw one of these out at Lakeside Ranch WTA a couple of weekends ago.

SONY DSC

A beauty.

SONY DSC

Above us at Witham Field, birds of a feather were flocking together.

Birds at the golf course

IMG_8914

Loggerhead Shrike.

IMG_8919

I took a walk past the Ocean Club Golf Course at the Hutchinson Island Marriott yesterday morning. Photos could be better, since most of the birds were on the wrong side of the light and far away.

IMG_8928

This is the most interesting bird. These shrikes don’t live in NH, where I started watching birds, and I’ve only seen a couple them in Florida.

Audubon Field Guide: Loggerhead Shrike

In open terrain, this predatory songbird watches from a wire or other high perch, then pounces on its prey: often a large insect, sometimes a small bird or a rodent. The Loggerhead is gradually disappearing from many areas, for reasons that are poorly understood.

Forages mostly by watching from an exposed perch, then swooping down to take prey on or near ground or from low vegetation. Kills its prey using its hooked bill. Often stores uneaten prey by impaling it on thorn or barbed wire, returning to eat it later.

IMG_8929

Wikipedia: Shrike…

Shrikes (/ʃraɪk/) are carnivorous passerine birds of the family Laniidae. The family is composed of thirty-one species in four genera. They are fairly closely related to the bush-shrike family Malaconotidae.

The family name, and that of the largest genus, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for “butcher”, and some shrikes are also known as butcherbirds because of their feeding habits. The common English name shrikeis from Old English scrīc, alluding to the shrike’s shriek-like call.

IMG_8937

In a tree near the pond, an Osprey was dining on a freshly caught and still wriggling fish.

IMG_8941

So many Ospreys around here. I like to watch these big, beautiful fish hawks.

IMG_8954

Northern Mockingbird, Mimus polyglottus, is the only mockingbird commonly found in North America.

IMG_8957

Wikipedia: Northern Mockingbird

The northern mockingbird is known for its intelligence. A 2009 study showed that the bird was able to recognize individual humans, particularly noting those who had previously been intruders or threats. Also birds recognize their breeding spots and return to areas in which they had greatest success in previous years. Urban birds are more likely to demonstrate this behavior. Finally, the mockingbird is influential in United States culture, being the state bird of five states, appearing in book titles, songs and lullabies, and making other appearances in popular culture.

IMG_8965

I spotted a pair of Mottled Ducks. This one with a yellow bill is the male. Female has an orange bill.

IMG_8978

Palm Warbler, I do believe. They never seem to be in palm trees.

IMG_8990

Snowy Egret.

IMG_8996

This Belted Kingfisher was swooping around noisily over the pond, but I captured it in a rare moment of perching.

IMG_9012

Back home we had some interesting “birds” overhead. A couple of F-18s were looping around over Sewall’s Point. The Stuart Airshow is this weekend!

IMG_9022

The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter’s YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations and, since 1986, by the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.

I had help identifying these birds from my husband, who is an airline pilot and flew a variety of fighter jets in the Marine Corps.

 

IMG_9029

As the F-18s took a couple of turns overhead, an Osprey was perched atop our Norfolk Island pine.

It catches flies

IMG_8896

Eastern Phoebe, is the consensus.

I had help with this one from the Facebook group What’s This Bird? Just post a bird photo and in mere moments you will have eager know-it-all birders help you identify your mystery bird! I mean that in a good way.

IMG_8902

What do I know about flycatchers? Well, only enough to think this bird is in that family. Among other identifying features, it would fly off its perch on limbs, wires, or our fence and catch bugs on the wing or in the grass.

IMG_8893

I shared these photos to the Facebook group, with a description of time, place and behavior, and here were the comments.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.19.38 AM.png

I pished for this bird

IMG_8858

Bird back.

IMG_8859

Bird front.

This little bird turns out to be a Magnolia Warbler. Here it is in a live oak tree with some dead branches, on Henry Sewall Way in south Sewall’s Point, Florida. I was out for a slow walk with my bird camera. The way was spangled with candy wrappers from last night’s trick-or-treaters.

IMG_8840

Some decorations are still up. Love this one. The skeleton on top is playing the harmonica, nice touch.

1024px-123_Black_&_Yellow_Warblers
I didn’t know what my yellow and black bird was so I searched “black yellow warbler” on my iPhone right there and came up with that Audubon print. John James Audubon identified them as “Black & Yellow Warblers” but they are now called Magnolia Warblers.

IMG_8851IMG_8852

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds:

  • Though it has very specific habitat preferences in the breeding season, the Magnolia Warbler occupies a very broad range of habitats in winter:  from sea level to 1,500 meters elevation, and most landscape types, except cleared fields.

  • The name of the species was coined in 1810 by Alexander Wilson, who collected a specimen from a magnolia tree in Mississippi. He actually used the English name “Black-and-yellow Warbler” and used “magnolia” for the Latin species name, which became the common name over time.

IMG_8854

This bird was flitting from branch to branch and hard to see, but responded to my pshh pshh pishing.

10,000 birds: The Fine Art of Pishing

How does one pish?
Quite simply, to pish is to say “pish, pish, pish” several times in the hopes that curious birds will come and investigate. There’s no real right or wrong way to pish. In fact, one should experiment with different variations until finding a style that works. A pish usually isn’t too loud and sounds like you are trying to silence someone: Psshh. Coincidentally, this is the same sound you might hear from another birder if you dare raise your voice above a soft whisper when you’re out watching since birds are sensitive creatures that will fly away if they hear so much as a cough, etc. etc.

Another form of pishing is also known as ‘squeaking.’ To squeak, noisily kiss the back of your hand in order to attract hidden birds. This form of pishing makes a noise like a bird scolding a predator, which often entices other birds to join the harangue. It does not, however, entice other birders to join the kissing of your hand, for which you’ll usually be most thankful.

Every birder seems to have a different style of pish, so much so that you might have more success identifying birders by their calls than the birds themselves. Take this as an invitation to innovate your own perfect pish.

IMG_8856

I do the quiet kind of pishing, not the noisy back-of-hand-kissing pishing, since I am only trying to attract some birds not the attention of neighbors!

Does pishing work?
Surprisingly, pishing really does work, though not everywhere. As any North American birder will tell you, pishing works amazingly well over most of the continent. More proficient pishers than I can coax curious chickadees to land on their heads. Pishing also works well in northern Europe but isn’t always as successful in the Tropics. While some adepts may have enticed normally furtive antbirds to hop right onto their hiking boots as they stood and pished in the jungle, our field correspondents have had little luck with pishing in the forests of Brazil or Venezuala, or Kenya or Nigeria.

The amazing thing about pishing is that when it works, it appears akin to magic; a barren tree can appear to suddenly fruit with tiny songbirds scrambling to spot the source of the sibilant swooshing!

There’s a little bird magic for you.

Palm warblers are back

IMG_8508

These little birds showed up on our street about a week ago. Small but impossible to miss because they were IN the road every time I drove or walked that way, hopping here and there, bobbing their tails constantly.

IMG_8511

I got some ID help from the Facebook group What’s This Bird. They are Palm Warblers.

IMG_8513

I met them for the first time in late February last year: LINK.

But they looked a bit different because their plumage was changing towards breeding season. Also, they may be part of the western not eastern subspecies, according to a Facebook birder. They “summer” a-way up north in the boreal forest and winter here in Florida, where there are palm trees.

IMG_8516

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

Though the Palm Warbler’s name might imply it is a tropical bird, it’s actually one of the northernmost breeding of all warblers (only the Blackpoll Warbler breeds farther north). They got their name from J. P. Gmelin who named them based on a specimen collected on Hispaniola, a Caribbean island with a lot of palm trees.

IMG_8517

Canada’s boreal forests stretch for miles and miles. The great boreal forest, often called “North America’s bird nursery,” is the summer home to billions of migratory birds and an estimated 98% of all Palm Warblers.

Palm Warblers breed in bogs and areas with scattered evergreen trees and thick ground cover in the boreal forest. During migration they stop in weedy fields, forest edges, fence rows, and other areas with scattered trees and shrubs. They use similar areas on the wintering grounds including second-growth forest patches, marshes, prairies, parks, and coastal scrub.

IMG_8519

Important, interesting, worthy! Boreal Conservation: Boreal Songbird Initiative

As the voice for boreal birds, the Boreal Songbird Initiative (BSI) is committed to protecting the Canadian Boreal Forest—the largest intact forest on Earth—on behalf of the billions of migratory birds that rely on it.

IMG_8524

And while we are focusing on road creatures, I found this run-over snake a couple of streets away on Lucindia North. I took a photo in order to ID it later. It’s a VENOMOUS Eastern Coral Snake!

Egretta

IMG_8771

The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) has yellow “slippers” and a yellow lore, which is the area between the eye and bill.

IMG_8774

The Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) is in the same family, Ardeidae, and same genus, Egretta, and around the same size. Both photographed in Lakeside Ranch STA on Saturday.

Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. The genus name comes from the Provençal French for the little egret, Aigrette, a diminutive of Aigron,” heron”.

egret

Egret, by Lin Fengmian, early 20th century, China.