Tag Archives: Eastern Phoebe

Pine Glades

Constant companions on our walk yesterday, Boat-tailed Grackles are the noisy ambassadors of the Pine Glades Natural Area in northern Palm Beach County.

They love Florida wetlands.

Pine Glades is 6,651 acres of freshwater marshes and ponds, wet prairie and pine flatwoods west of Jupiter, Florida.

A family fishing from this platform reported they had caught a few gar. At a covered fishing platform nearby, another family reported crappie and bass were lured by their minnow bait.

There is also a canoe and kayak launch near the small parking area.

We were there for the birds though, and a walk in sunshine.

My husband was excited to see his first Eastern Meadowlark.

I have only seen one before, myself, on a trip to Lakeside STA , a manmade wetland area in western Martin County near Lake Okeechobee.

This bird was singing prettily.

The male Eastern Meadowlark’s primary song consists of 3 to 5 (sometimes up to 8) pure and plaintive flutelike whistles all slurred together and gradually dropping in pitch, up to 2 seconds long. Male have a repertoire of songs, singing one song repeatedly for a time and then switching to a different version. They typically sing from an exposed perch, but occasionally sing in flight as well.

This bird was perched in one of the few remaining melaleuca trees.

Removing invasive melaleucas was one part of the Pine Glades restoration work that began in 2008. It included installing culverts, removing berms and asphalt roads, land grading, and prescribed burns to reduce invasive species and stimulate native vegetation to seed itself. The project was finished in 2013.

Pine Glades is an eBird hotspot, with 163 species sighted as of this posting.

When I asked my husband later what his favorite bird moment of the day was, he said, “When I saw the Wheels Up King Air that had just taken off from North Palm Beach Airport.” (That’s his new job and new plane.)

“No,” said I, “BIRD moment.”

“Oh then the meadowlark, for sure.”

He had also never seen a Loggerhead Shrike.

I got to explain how they were basically bloodthirsty songbirds who like to impale their prey (lizards, insects, small birds and mammals) on thorns or barbed wire for later eating. Seriously.

After we walked the short, paved trails to the two observation/ fishing platforms, we returned to the parking lot where there was the beginning of the longer hiking trails.

The Quail Trail is packed sand, shells and gravel. It’s open, high and dry, and has good views of the wetlands.

First wading bird we got a good look at was a Limpkin. Not sure why it was hanging its wings like that… maybe hiding a nest? sunning?

There was a sort of canal/ lake and the path would turn just past here to travel south alongside it.

Great Egret on the hunt.

Snowy Egret. I think of them more as coastal birds but this one proved they visit inland wetlands too.

A view back toward the small parking area.

My highlight bird of the day was this Pie-billed Grebe. I’ve seen them a couple of times before, but never gotten a decent photo.

It was alone on this body of water, diving occasionally, keeping an eye on us.

Grebes are little diving birds more closely related to flamingos than ducks, loons or coots. Their awesome nicknames include dabchick, dive-dapper, hell diver and water witch.

Their bills are “pied,” or two-colored, in breeding season, not now.

Across the water we spotted a small group of Roseate Spoonbills.

Pretty in pink.

The flamboyant Roseate Spoonbill looks like it came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book with its bright pink feathers, red eye staring out from a partly bald head, and giant spoon-shaped bill. Groups sweep their spoonbills through shallow fresh or salt waters snapping up crustaceans and fish.

As we headed south on the trail, wetlands were to our right and grassy, open pine flatwoods on our left.

It’s the dry season and the drier areas are more brown than green. I miss the big fat wet-season clouds too. These little winter clouds just can’t compare.

An easy walking surface, for sure. Probably should have brought some water. The sun was hot though the air temp was probably only about 80 and not too humid.

I’ve been trying to get rid of a lingering cough and I feel sure the sunshine and birds helped!

The Quail Trail bent around and headed west, connecting to other longer trails we will explore another day.

Right here we actually heard the call of a Northern Bob-white quail. I didn’t know they lived in Florida. (The trail name might have tipped me off, ha!) Seems we are at the southern end of their range.

We spotted an Eastern Phoebe, a petite flycatcher that visits Florida in winter. Not enough bugs up north? Come to Florida, little friend. (Actually, we forgot to wear bug spray and had no trouble with mosquitos.)

A Red-shouldered Hawk circled overhead, calling and calling.

Pine Glades is a quiet place (except for the grackles) and a good place to stretch your legs and rest your eyes on some natural beauty.

Location.

More info on Pine Glades at Wild South Florida.

Haney Creek list

greenheron

Green Heron!

Not an uncommon bird, but hard to spot. This is my first sighting since we moved to Florida.

IMG_1243-2

I went for a walk at Haney Creek yesterday late morning. I kept track of the birds I saw and heard and posted an eBird checklist for the first time in a while.

IMG_1247-2

The first to greet me: a couple of Gray Catbirds.

IMG_1249-2

Meow.

IMG_1252-2

Next, a non-bird.

IMG_1253-2

A slow-moving Gopher Tortoise was grazing at the edge of the path.

IMG_1263-2

On the fence at the dog run, an Eastern Phoebe.

IMG_1265-2

“Phoebe!” it said, helpfully.

IMG_1273-2

I expected to see more wading birds in the wetlands but only came up with this immature Little Blue Heron.

IMG_1276-2

That is a school just beyond the wetlands.

IMG_1279-2

The Little Blue is starting to get its adult colors.

IMG_1280-2

Why do they start off white and turn slaty blue-gray? I don’t know.

IMG_1282-2

On the hunt.

IMG_1283-2

Mirror, mirror.

IMG_1284-2

Last time I was at the dog park at Haney Creek (two days before), there were a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a pair of Great Egrets having a turf battle. I did not have my camera. I was hoping to see them this day but no luck.

IMG_1286-2

Next I walked a trail through sand pine scrub.

IMG_1290-2

There were little birds calling but I only got a good look at a few, including this Yellow-rumped Warbler.

IMG_1291-2

There have been a ton of butterbutts around this winter. I’m almost getting sick of them.

IMG_1292-2

More info on Florida sand pine scrub, an endangered subtropical forest ecoregion.

IMG_1294-2

Another gopher tortoise out for a stroll.

IMG_1296-2

Finally an animal that can’t outrun me, or fly away.

IMG_1300-2

Lots of Northern Cardinals around.

IMG_1303-2

I think it’s nesting season for them.

IMG_1307-2

Chestnut cap helps identify this (out of focus) Palm Warbler.

IMG_1308-2

Who doesn’t love a Green Heron??

A walk in Atlantic Ridge Preserve

IMG_9926-2

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.

Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 7.52.35 AM.png

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).

27331792_10215536810797675_7030169090059994799_n

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

IMG_9931-2

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

IMG_9939-2

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.”

IMG_9940-2

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.

sayo_phoe_AllAm_map

IMG_0006-2

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

IMG_0016-2

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

IMG_0018-2

Radar soaks his feet.

IMG_0022-2

Jungly, in that wet-dry Florida way.

IMG_0024-2

The view.

IMG_0029-2

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

IMG_0033-2

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

IMG_0036-2

Wild thing.

IMG_0037-2

Sign in the middle of nowhere.

IMG_0040-2

Vegetation. Kind of monotonous in a beautiful way.

IMG_0041-2

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.

IMG_0043-2

Pine Warbler in a pine tree.

IMG_0047-2

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.

IMG_0058-2

Tracks on the trail.

IMG_0060-2

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.

IMG_0061-2

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

IMG_0064-2

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.

IMG_0074-2

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.)

IMG_0076-2

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.

IMG_0078-3

Black Vultures have the white wingtips.

IMG_0079-2

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.

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

It’s still phoebe summer

img_3059

Eastern phoebe in the bayberry bush by the pond.

I’m happy to see this summer bird is still around.

img_3065

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Eastern Phoebe Migration

Short to medium distance migrant. Eastern Phoebes are among the first migrants to return to their breeding grounds in spring—sometimes as early as March. They migrate south in September–November, finding wintering habitat in the central latitudes of the United States south to Mexico.

img_3077

Phoebe on the garden fence.

Cornell Lab cool phoebe facts

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.

What did you say your name was?

IMG_2189IMG_2188

“Phoebe, phoebe…” alright already!

Noisy little flycatchers zooming all over the place.

The Eastern Phoebe generally perches low in trees or on fencelines. Phoebes are very active, making short flights to capture insects and very often returning to the same perch. They make sharp “peep” calls in addition to their familiar “phoebe” vocalizations. When perched, Eastern Phoebes wag their tails down and up frequently.

Grab bag of May birds

IMG_1562

Brown-headed Cowbird at the top of the dawn redwood in our front yard.

IMG_1611

Gray Catbird at the edge of the red maple swamp out back.

IMG_1617

Common Yellowthroat takes off.

IMG_1624.jpg

Tree Swallow perches on the martin house “antenna.”

IMG_1661

Eastern Phoebe holds still for a moment.

IMG_1664.jpg

Red-winged Blackbird sings atop a maple at the edge of the swamp.

IMG_1675

Eastern Towhee, female, scuffling in leaves at the edge of the field.

Phoebe, phoebe

IMG_1429

Eastern Phoebe, spotted while drinking a beer on the front lawn with my husband yesterday afternoon.

I have been trying to get a photo of this bird (actually, I think there are two of them) for a few days. I was pretty sure it was some kind of flycatcher, but not sure which one.

Got the shot. Looked up local flycatchers online. It’s a phoebe.

One of our most familiar eastern flycatchers, the Eastern Phoebe’s raspy “phoebe” call is a frequent sound around yards and farms in spring and summer. These brown-and-white songbirds sit upright and wag their tails from prominent, low perches.

I will get more, better photos too, I hope! This is my Backyard Bird #50.