Monthly Archives: January 2017

Bird thought this was the Sunshine State


I spotted a hawk through my misted windshield this afternoon, when I turned for home onto my road.


I got out of the car and got a few photos. Looks like a Broad-winged Hawk. An old bird friend from New Hampshire summers, I was always sad to see them fly away in fall.


This Florida snowbird looks a bit irritated with the all-day 50-degree rain. I feel his pain. I had to put the heat on today, for the first time. That always smells funny.

Shorebirds galore


Willet in the surf at Bathtub Beach last Thursday.


Willets are often seen alone. They walk deliberately, pausing to probe for crabs, worms and other prey in sand and mudflats, or to pick at insects and mollusks.


Willets and other shorebirds were once a popular food. In his famous Birds of America accounts, John James Audubon wrote that Willet eggs were tasty and the young “grow rapidly, become fat and juicy, and by the time they are able to fly, afford excellent food.” By the early 1900s, Willets had almost vanished north of Virginia. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 banned market hunting and marked the start of the Willet’s comeback.


A couple of Willets plus a Sanderling for size.


Ruddy turnstones. I see a lot of these but have not yet blogged them.


The ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is a small wading bird, one of two species of turnstone in the genus Arenaria. The scientific name is from Latin. The genus name arenaria derives from arenarius, “inhabiting sand, from arena, “sand”. The specific interpres means “messenger”; when visiting Gotland in 1741, Linnaeus thought that the Swedish word Tolk “interpreter” applied to this species, but in the local dialect the word means “legs” and is used for the redshank.

Grackles abound


We went fishing under the Jensen Beach causeway bridge. We didn’t catch anything.


This was interesting.


Pretty much every cabbage palm had at least one noisy grackle. The whole park is full of their calls.


I guessed they were males advertising a nice nesting tree, but I honestly don’t know.


Hey, handsome.

Tringa semipalmata


A Willet on the rocks, at Ross Witham Beach near the House of Refuge.

The willet (Tringa semipalmata), formerly in the monotypic genus Catoptrophorus as Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, is a large shorebird in the sandpiper family. It is a good-sized and stout scolopacid, the largest of the shanks.


The rocks are part of the Anastasia Formation

The Anastasia Formation, named by E. H. Sellards in 1912, is composed of interbedded sands and coquina limestones. The formation is an orangish brown, soft to moderately hard, coquina of whole and fragmented mollusk shells within sand often cemented by sparry calcite.


Makes a nice Willet perch.

East windy


Strong east wind blew lots of venomous Portuguese man-o-wars onto the beach yesterday.


Brown Pelicans cruised south over the beach, crabbed into the wind.


Their big wings seem designed for easy lift.


Brown Pelicans feed by plunging into the water, stunning small fish with the impact of their large bodies and scooping them up in their expandable throat pouches. When not foraging, pelicans stand around fishing docks, jetties, and beaches or cruise the shoreline. In flight, lines of pelicans glide on their broad wings, often surfing updrafts along wave faces or cliffs. Their wingbeats are slow, deep, and powerful.


Whew: Radar had good workout in soft sand, high on the beach to avoid man-o-wars.

American crows? Uh-uh.


I am feeling more confident I can tell the difference between an American Crow and a Fish Crow after two mornings in a row of a Fish Crow Convention, with attendees between 5 and 20 birds calling their uh-uhs from the Norfolk Island pine in our front yard.


From my bird ID Bible, Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

Not everyone realizes it, but there are two kinds of crows across much of the eastern United States. Looking almost identical to the ubiquitous American Crow, Fish Crows are tough to identify until you learn their nasal calls. Look for them around bodies of water, usually in flocks and sometimes with American Crows. They are supreme generalists, eating just about anything they can find. Fish Crows have expanded their range inland and northward along major river systems in recent decades.


Fish Crows have a distinctive caw that is short, nasal and quite different-sounding from an American Crow. This call is sometimes doubled-up with an inflection similar to someone saying uh-uh.


Size & Shape
Fish Crows fit the standard crow shape: hefty, well-proportioned birds with heavy bills, sturdy legs, and broad wings. At rest, Fish Crows’ wings fall short of their medium-length, square tails.

Color Pattern
Fish Crows are all black. Immatures are less glossy and can become brownish as their feathers wear in their first year.

Fish Crows are very social birds—look for them in pairs in the breeding season and up to several hundred or more during migration or winter. When feeding and roosting they may mix with American Crows. When Fish Crows give their distinctive nasal calls from the ground, they often puff out their neck and body feathers, forming a distinctive, ragged ruff on the throat.

Fish crow, check! My 21st Florida bird photographed and ID’ed since we moved here Dec. 6, one month ago.