Tag Archives: White Ibis

Almost-spring on Bird Island

Come fly with me…

… to a strange and wonderful place known as Bird Island. It’s very close to home.

This Magnificent Frigatebird knows the way.

Black frigatebirds on lower branches, white Wood Storks above.

The storks are the most numerous nesting birds at this time of year on this small mangrove island in the Indian River Lagoon that’s just off our peninsular town of Sewall’s Point.

Frigatebirds don’t nest here, they just roost, I’ve been told. But I’m keeping an eye on that situation!

We took a boat out on Tuesday, March 17, late afternoon with the newest member of the family, Ruby the 10-week-old German shepherd. It was her first boat ride and she was great! (We are members of a boat club in Manatee Pocket, about a 20 minute ride to Bird Island.)

Brown Pelicans had reserved their own roosting and nesting spots in one section of the canopy.

Big wings, big bill.

Wood Storks flew close to the boat.

Very common sight in Sewall’s Point at this time of year, as they fly over on their way to Bird Island, sometimes even stopping in our trees to break beaches for nesting material.

Peachy pink feet visible in this photo, as well as some color under the wings.

Speaking of color, the White Ibis have more intensely colored bills and feet in breeding season.

I am so glad this island was designated a wildlife area.

A Great Blue Heron among the Wood Storks. Looks like a Little Blue Heron mixed in there too.

Birds everywhere.

Ruby was watching them too.

White Ibis flying over. They don’t stop on this island – they have their own on the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway.

White Ibis zoomed in.

My husband’s favorite bird was this Fish Crow perched on the sign, as if to draw attention to its important information!

Great Egret.

Wood Stork coming in for a landing.

“Honey, I’m home!”

“Great to see you, gimme a smooch!”

Smooch!

I’m looking forward to getting out to Bird Island again later in the season, when the chicks pop up.

Here are some photos of young Wood Storks from a trip to Bird Island May 2018.

Heron the hermit

Here’s a young White Ibis losing its brown feathers and growing its adult plumage.

Walking around the pond at Indian Riverside Park, most of the birds are like the ibis, tolerating humans at close range.

Out in the middle of the pond, I zoom in to see the Green Heron keeping to himself.

This small heron is solitary at most seasons and often somewhat secretive, living around small bodies of water or densely vegetated areas.https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/green-heron

The checkered ibis

From brown to white, this immature White Ibis is patchy with new feathers.

Reminds me a bit of the diamond patchwork of a harlequin.

Adult and not-yet.

A watched a flock of White Ibis at Indian Riverside Park a couple of days ago. I focused on the young birds, with their more varied coloring.

Some were less patchy and more brown.

Side by side.

White Ibises probe for insects and crustaceans beneath the surface of wetlands. They insert their bill into soft muddy bottoms and feel for prey. When they feel something, they pinch it like a tweezer, pulling out crayfish, earthworms, marine worms, and crabs. They also stab or pinch fish, frogs, lizards, snails, and newts. Many of their prey are swallowed on the spot, but for really muddy items they carry them away to wash the mud off before eating.https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/White_Ibis/lifehistory

These birds didn’t care I was crouched down right near them.

Nice to get such a good look at these common Florida birds in their less commonly observed plumage.

Blue-eyed bird

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White Ibis are easy to watch, especially at Indian Riverside Park where people have fed them.

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Audubon.org: White Ibis

One of the most numerous wading birds in Florida, and common elsewhere in the southeast. Highly sociable at all seasons, roosting and feeding in flocks, nesting in large colonies. When groups wade through shallows, probing with their long bills, other wading birds such as egrets may follow them to catch prey stirred up by the ibises.

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In this photo, the eye is briefly covered by the nictitating membrane or third eyelid.

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Now back to the pretty blue eye.

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The squirrels are even tamer at this park. Once, I had come right up to me and stand on my foot.

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Mucking about, but they seem to stay so clean and white.

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Peace and quiet

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White Ibis in the mangroves.

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We walked out on a new boardwalk though mangroves to the Indian River Lagoon, at the Clifton S. Perry Beach on Hutchinson Island. This park opened very recently, just south of Santa Lucea Beach and north of the House of Refuge.

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Bird on a board.

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Grubby ibis.

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I would never have seen these birds without boardwalk access to this spot that is otherwise inhospitable to humans. The birds did seem a bit surprised to see us there. They can be quite bold beggars at Indian RiverSide Park, walking right up to people and looking for a handout.

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But maybe sometimes they like a people-free place. I tried not to disturb them too much!

I had help seeing the birds

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This is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, first thing in the morning when it was still kind of dark for my camera.

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Looking into the mangroves at a Roseate Spoonbill.

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Spoonbill with its cousin the White Ibis.

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On Saturday morning I was invited to join three more experienced birders for a walk in a bird-friendly spot between wetlands and the Indian River Lagoon on Hutchinson Island. So helpful to have them notice birds by sight and sound and explain how they could identify them.

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Morning light in a spider web.

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Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

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This was identified as a Tennessee Warbler. Not a great photo, but a new bird for me so here it is!

A dainty warbler of the Canadian boreal forest, the Tennessee Warbler specializes in eating the spruce budworm. Consequently its population goes up and down with fluctuations in the populations of the budworm.

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Black-crowned Night Heron.

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Night herons have such big eyes.

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Palm Warblers are back in town.

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Fluffball.

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We see lots of these in Sewall’s Point in winter, hopping around on the ground, wagging their tails up and down.

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We were surprised and happy to spot a Painted Bunting. Well, I did not notice it – I had help from the other birders! How could I miss such a bright bird?

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This is a new bird for me, #192 on the sidebar blog list.

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It really let us get a good look (if not a very good photo).

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With their vivid fusion of blue, green, yellow, and red, male Painted Buntings seem to have flown straight out of a child’s coloring book. Females and immatures are a distinctive bright green with a pale eyering. These fairly common finches breed in the coastal Southeast and in the south-central U.S., where they often come to feeders. They are often caught and sold illegally as cage birds, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean, a practice that puts pressure on their breeding populations.

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Cattle Egrets perched up high.

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White bird, blue sky.

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A bit further down the path, a green (female or immature) Painted Bunting was scuffing around in leaves and grass.

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In migration and winter, search for Painted Buntings by targeting sources of seeds such as weedy fields or bird feeders. In the summer, cruise through secondary growth or edge habitats with dense understory and listen for the species’ metallic chip call or the sweet, rambling song of a male. Painted Buntings spend a lot of time hidden in dense habitat so patience might be necessary; however, the wait will be worth it when you finally spot this gem, surely one of North America’s finest songbirds.

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Such a pretty green color.

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Very exciting for me to see these buntings for the first time!

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Great Crested Flycatcher poses nicely in the morning sun.

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Northern Parula.

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Peekaboo.

First visit to Sailfish Flats

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A boardwalk through the mangroves leads to a view over the Indian River Lagoon and the shallow sandbars known as Sailfish Flats. The boardwalk is across the street from Bathtub Reef Beach. (And within my 5-mile radius.)

Location…

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This was my first visit here. I stopped by this eBird Hotspot this morning at 8 a.m. and watched birds for 15 minutes.

Here is my eBird checklist. I forgot my binoculars so I couldn’t ID the terns on the farthest sandbar. Next time!

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First bird was a White Ibis.

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A young Reddish Egret flew in from the north and landed on the railing near me.

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I suspect this is the same bird I saw on the ocean side on September 20: LINK.

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One guy was coming back from fishing. It was 86 degrees and a bit windy, but the wind was from the east so we were a bit protected on this side of Hutchinson Island.

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The egret flew out to the flats and started its fishing dance.

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I didn’t see it catch anything, but it was pretty to watch.

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Master fishing-bird the Osprey did catch something.

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It was immediately harassed by another Osprey, something I haven’t seen before.

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Maybe it was a young Osprey begging for food from a parent?

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Still hopping around out there.

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American Bird Conservancy…

The Reddish Egret stalks its prey—mostly small fish—more actively than other herons and egrets. The birds first locate their quarry by sight, then the dance begins. They dash, lurch, and zig-zag after their prey, often holding their wings over the water as they hunt. This shadow-casting strategy is thought to reduce glare and help the egret more accurately sight and spear its prey.

I also saw, but did not get great photos of: Green Heron, Snowy Egret, Brown Pelican, a couple of terns species flying over, and Laughing Gulls.

Annoying bird friend

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Birds and people at Chastain Beach a few mornings ago.

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White Ibis seems interested in this Willet.

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Willet seems a bit annoyed by White Ibis.

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Hey, wait for me!

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What does White Ibis want?

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Willet wants to be left alone.

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The following persisted right around me and into the rocks looking toward Bathtub Reef Beach.

Around and around the pond we go,/ what birds we’ll see, we never know

Pond at Indian RiverSide Park, Jensen Beach yesterday around 1 p.m.

I submitted an eBird checklist for this visit: HERE it is.

Little Blue Heron grabbed a Big Brown Bug from the grass, dropped it in the water for a second, then swallowed it whole.

What does that feel like, I wonder.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were on hand, two by two.

This Green Heron is a juvenile.

Mottled Ducks were chasing each other all over the pond, in a minor commotion I thought might be due to some new arrivals sorting out the pecking order. Except this one duck was alone in the reeds.

Green Heron. Fluffy neck feathers.

I haven’t seen a Green Heron here before. This one was pretty shy so I didn’t go too close or stay too long in that spot.

Raised crest, seems a bit alarmed. Okay, I’m moving on!

The Tricolored Heron would dance around in front of me all day and never mind.

And Egyptian Geese walk right up to you to see if you have food. (A guy stopped by and fed them peanuts while I was there.)

The other pair of Whistling Ducks, on the other side of the pond, was near the Common Gallinule family.

Flyover of about 40 pigeons while I was there, but only one scruffy bird bothered to land… on a trashcan.

Adult gallinule.

The young ‘uns.

Three chicks, one adult in this pic. The whole family I’ve been seeing consistently,  of 2 parents and 4 chicks, was present.

Egyptian Geese and gallinule chicks.

Wood Ducks made an appearance.. Looks like a couple of non-breeding/ juvenile males and a female.

Mottled Duck and Wood Ducks.

Pond scene.

I was driving off but had to roll down my window and zoom in on this charming sight: a White Ibis sunning itself like my chickens used to do.

You’re adorable!

Why Do Birds Sunbathe?

Many birds are observed sunning even on the hottest days, however, and it is believed that sunning can fulfill purposes other than just temperature regulation. Sunning can help birds convert compounds in their preening oil – secreted from a gland at the base of the tail – into vitamin D, which is essential for good health. If the birds have been in a bird bath or swimming, sunning can help their feathers dry more quickly so they can fly easier, without being weighed down by excess water. It is even believed that some birds sun themselves for pure enjoyment and relaxation, much the same way humans will sunbathe.

The most important reason for sunning, however, is to maintain feather health. Sunning can dislodge feather parasites because the excess heat will encourage insects to move to other places in a bird’s plumage. This will give the bird easier access to get rid of those parasites when preening, and birds are frequently seen preening immediately after sunning. It is essential to get rid of these parasites – the tiny insects that infect feathers can cause problems for a bird’s flight, insulation and appearance, all of which can impact its survival.