After a thunderstorm, birds

IMG_2837-2

Black-and-white Warbler was one of a mixed flock of presumably migrating warblers that arrived in our neighborhood big trees yesterday afternoon after strong thunderstorms and even a tornado warning in central Martin County.

IMG_2838-2

They remind me of nuthatches or creepers the way they spiral around and up and down trees, searching for insects in the bark.

IMG_2839-2

Audubon Field Guide: Black-and-white Warbler

This bird is often a favorite warbler for beginning birders, because it is easy to see and easy to recognize. It was once known as the “Black-and-white Creeper,” a name that describes its behavior quite well. Like a nuthatch or creeper (and unlike other warblers), it climbs about on the trunks and major limbs of trees, seeking insects in the bark crevices.

IMG_2845-2

Northern Cardinal stopped by to see what all the fuss was about.

IMG_2854-2

Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

The Black-and-white Warbler is the only member of the genus Mniotilta. The genus name means “moss-plucking,” a reference to its habit of probing bark and moss for insects.

IMG_2859-2

These birds are boldly striped in black and white. Their black wings are highlighted by two wide, white wing bars. Adult males have more obvious black streaking, particularly on the underparts and the cheek. Females (especially immatures) are paler, with less streaking and usually a wash of buff on the flanks. The undertail coverts have distinctive large black spots.

IMG_2861-2

Black-and-white Warblers typically use deciduous forests and mixed forests of deciduous trees and conifers. They can be found in many habitats during migration, especially woodlots and forests in riparian settings. On their tropical wintering grounds Black-and-white Warblers use an immense range of habitats, including lawns, gardens, and other urban settings, fruit orchards, shade-coffee plantations, wetlands, mangroves, and all types of forests.

IMG_2863-2

I was able to get quite a few decent photos. They move a lot, but a little slower than other warblers, with more hopping than flying.

IMG_2868-2

Black-and-white Warblers eat mostly insects. Moth and butterfly larvae form the bulk of their diet during spring migration and throughout the breeding season. Other arthropod prey includes ants, flies, spiders, click and leaf beetles, wood-borers, leafhoppers, and weevils.

Tidy up that tree for us, thanks!

IMG_2875-2

Also close by the Black-and-whites were a few American Redstarts. Harder to get photos of them!

IMG_2876-2

Now that is not a bird I see every day! Must get out with my camera this morning and see what else is in town.

Beach walk with Willet

IMG_2676-2

Willet at Chastain Beach, Stuart, Florida a couple of days ago.

IMG_2678-2

Willets seem to be here on South Hutchinson Island year round. They are usually alone when I see them.

IMG_2679-2

Feeding both during the day and at night, Willets take most of their prey from the surface, using their sensitive bill tip to grab up worms, snails, and insects. They also probe for sand crabs and other prey on mudflats and beaches, and take shellfish and small fiddler crabs from rocky shorelines. You’ll usually see them on wetted shorelines or wading close to the water’s edge, but occasionally Willets paddle in shallow waters to chase down small fish and crabs.

IMG_2682-2

Pretty feathers.

IMG_2684-2

One Willet and one beachcomber.

IMG_2685-2

Chastain Beach.

IMG_2687-2

Willet alone.

IMG_2703-2

A short walk south, at Bathtub Reef Beach (closed now for renourishment and repairs) a Great Egret was fishing out by the reef.

IMG_2729-2

Rough seas offshore, calm water behind the reef.

IMG_2751-2

Nearby, a Snowy Egret.

Warblers and tanager in town

IMG_2771-2

When I saw these little birds a couple of blocks from home last night, I went back and got my camera.

IMG_2774-2

Warblers, I guessed, stopping in delicious Sewall’s Point on their way north. Delicious because we have lots of mature vegetation, fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs, and tasty little bugs.

Feed the birds… with habitat!

At home I reviewed the pics and decided these were Cape May Warblers, a first for me!

IMG_2779-2

This one is a female. There were four birds in this tree, flying out now and then to nab a tiny insect.

IMG_2781-2

Setophaga tigrina, their name means “moth-eating tiger-striped.”

IMG_2782-2

The Cape May Warbler breeds across the boreal forest of Canada and the northern United States, where the fortunes of its populations are largely tied to the availability of spruce budworms, its preferred food. Striking in appearance but poorly understood, the species spends its winters in the West Indies, collecting nectar with its unique curled, semitubular tongue.

IMG_2785-2

A little further north on River Road, I spotted a red bird near the top of a fruiting tree (ficus?) It was not a cardinal.

IMG_2786-2

Photos not great, but good enough to post on the Facebook group “What’s This Bird” and get an ID: a male Summer Tanager, his plumage changing from non-breeding to breeding colors. Also a first for me, what an evening!

The only completely red bird in North America, the strawberry-colored male Summer Tanager is an eye-catching sight against the green leaves of the forest canopy. The mustard-yellow female is harder to spot, though both sexes have a very distinctive chuckling call note. Fairly common during the summer, these birds migrate as far as the middle of South America each winter. All year long they specialize in catching bees and wasps on the wing, somehow avoiding being stung by their catches.

IMG_2787-2

Summer Tanagers specialize on bees and wasps on both their breeding and wintering ranges. They also eat other aerial and terrestrial invertebrates—such as spiders, cicadas, beetles, ants, termites, grasshoppers, flies, moths, and bugs—as well as fruits such as mulberries, blackberries, pokeweed, Cecropia, citrus, and bananas. They capture flying insects during short sallies, carrying their prey back and beating it repeatedly against the perch. They glean terrestrial insects from the leaves and bark of trees and shrubs. To harvest fruit, they may hover and pluck individual fruits, or glean from a perched position.

IMG_2792-2

That red color in the setting sun! There were a few Cape Mays in this tree too.

IMG_2794-2

I should have flicked over from autofocus to manual focus, but I was so worried it would fly off while I looked down.

IMG_2797-2

Soon this bird will be red all over.

These are my 84th and 85th Florida birds and 63rd and 64th 2018 birds.

Glossy Ibis

IMG_2604-2

Glossy Ibis in a Port St. Lucie yard, spotted on Friday, driving home from the botanical garden.

I don’t see many glossies out by the coast. The White Ibis are much more common around us.

IMG_2605-2

There are three species of ibis in North America. Apparently it’s easy to confuse Glossy Ibis with the brown White-faced Ibis (but not with the all-white White Ibis, of course). I’m going with Glossy, though, since we are not in the area for White-faced. More on ID from Audubon.org…

Birdist Rule #83: Identify Your First Ibis

Beware: We have three species, and two of them can be very confusing.

IMG_1458-2.jpg

Not confusing: White Ibis crossing the street in my neighborhood. I see lots of these birds, pretty much every day. Starting with their bills, ibises seem to be made of gentle curves.

ibismap

Because I don’t see many Glossy Ibis, I thought they were uncommon. Well, in fact they are the most widespread species of Ibis on the planet.

(It is impossible to learn what you think you already know. I got that from Epictetus, the Greek Stoic philosopher, and it might be my favorite quote. Applicable to so many situations.)

IMG_2603-2

Audubon Field Guide…

Flocks of Glossy Ibises wade in the shallows of eastern marshes, probing for food with their sickle-shaped bills. Widespread in the Old World, the species is found in the New World mainly in the West Indies and along our Atlantic Coast, especially Florida, where it was quite scarce as recently as the 1930s. It may have invaded within the last few centuries, riding the trade winds across from West Africa to the Caribbean.

hieroibis

Ibis hieroglyph, Edfu Temple of Horus.

There are 29 species of Ibis (Theskiornithidae) in the world, including the African sacred ibis that was venerated in Ancient Egypt. It was associated with the ibis-headed god Thoth, whose domain was the moon, magic, mathematics, measurement, time and writing.

ibisgod

An Egyptian bronze and wood ibis coffin, circa 747-656 B.C., Christie’s.

He served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other. He also served as scribe of the gods, credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves. In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A’an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma’at, was exactly even.

The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. divine) law, making proper use of Ma’at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them. Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe. He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist. His power was unlimited in the Underworld and rivalled that of Ra and Osiris.

The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine.

That’s some bird god.     maat-feather.jpg

Osprey nests by the St. Lucie River

IMG_2416-2

Ospreys are nesting.

With so much water around us, and so many fish, “fish hawks” are abundant. I see at least a few every day, in part because I have to cross bridges from my home peninsula to do errands.

IMG_2411-2

We spotted this one at Pendarvis Cove Park in Palm City two days ago. We were walking the dog and visiting a new place.

IMG_2406-2

Another Osprey in a tree nearby, presumably the other half of the pair.

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 8.05.19 AM

Location: a nice little park on the South Fork of the St. Lucie River.

IMG_2417-2

When we spotted the nest from afar, we thought it might be a Bald Eagle’s.

IMG_2418-2

“An eagle wouldn’t tolerate an osprey that close,” John opined.

IMG_2432-2

Quite an accumulation of nesting material.

IMG_2430-2

This one has a fish.

IMG_2440-2.jpg

Wild thing.

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 8.04.08 AM

Yesterday we walked around the pretty gardens at Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, on the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. It’s the longest walk we’ve done in two weeks, since my husband fixed an old injury by getting a new titanium hip.

IMG_2492-2

We spotted another Osprey nest. They do like the sturdy old pines.

IMG_2488-2

Hello, fish hawk.

IMG_2489-2

This one looked a bit damp. It’s mate was nearby too.

IMG_2495-2

Good news from Audubon: Now Resurgent, Ospreys Once Faced an Uncertain Future

IMG_2569-2

One more photo, orchids in the garden.

The weather has been lovely. April in Florida is sweet.

Cardinals in the bird bath

IMG_2098-2

The cardinals have discovered the bird bath.

IMG_2108-2

They don’t just sip from it, or splash a little… they take nice long soaks.

IMG_2109-2

It’s got a solar fountain but they seem to prefer when the fountain is off, when it’s cloudy or the angle of the sun prevents the solar cells from powered the pump.

It’s in a corner of our yard that was overgrown with weeds and small trees. We cleared it, planted a few foxtail palms, some clumping (not spreading) bamboo, and we have been landscaping with butterfly friendly flowers.

IMG_2113-2

On this day the male and female took turns. I have also seen them in there together, which is adorable.

IMG_2114-2

She looks like she is anticipating the coming bath, like a human at the edge of a pool on a hot day.

IMG_2115-2

We don’t have a pool in the backyard for us, just for the birds. Hm.

IMG_2125-2

She was splashing then soaking.

IMG_2143-2

I got this bath for my birthday in March, ordered online from Hayneedle: Smart Somerset Verdigris Solar Bird Bath Fountain. I read that the sound of the water attracts birds.

IMG_2146-2

What a sweetie.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Providing Water for Birds