Tuesday, April 12, 2011

All about birds lately

I've developed a certain fondness for birds, now that I see so many of them. There are 2 osprey that built a nest across the road in front of the lake, and they often fly to a tree in our yard to eat the fish they catch, dropping the bones to the ground. I was seeing the sandhill cranes (1st image) every day for a while - as many as 7 at one time - but they have eaten all the bugs and moved on. Then last week, a female cardinal started throwing herself at her reflection in the window, thinking it was a rival (and went to the windows on the other side of the house when we covered those on this side). More irregularly I see flocks of white ibis and turkey vultures around town and sometimes overhead. I also see mourning doves and red-winged blackbirds at the birdfeeder and a woodpecker on one of the trees. And my friend Sue brought me to the cemetery where a great horned owl was nesting with her 2 chicks.

My friend Cris was here for a long weekend, so we took a drive with Sue through a local bird sanctuary - and, of course, saw yet more birds. But the fun started when we were waiting for Sue to arrive. Cris and I were sitting on the deck when she calmly tells me there is a snake wound around the table she was sitting at! I grabbed the Audubon field guide for Florida which I had at the ready and quickly determined that it was a nonvenomous eastern ribbon snake, so we watched it wander away (5th and 6th images). At the sanctuary, we saw turtles (I'm not sure what kind) and a juvenile alligator (4th image). The birds we saw included snowy egret (2nd image) and cattle egret; white ibis and glossy ibis; common moorhen and American coot (3rd image); and a boat-tailed grackle. And on the way out, Cris and Sue saw a wood stork, but I missed that one.

Photos by Cris Hastings!

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