Author Archives: Amy

My visitors came from *where* in February 2013?!?!

Here are the highs and lows found in last month’s Statcounter logs for this site…

I’m not the only one wondering about pellets possibly produced by ibises as there were searches for ibis producing pellets, ibis bird coughing up green pellets, and can an ibis produce a pellet. By the way, Cornell’s Birds of North America Online is great for finding answers to these questions. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m glad this search brought someone to my site, but I do wish more people would use eBird to answer questions like where was the green-tailed towhee found in tampa florida dec 31, 2011. (Here’s a hint)

Oh, another one for eBird! I wonder in what season yellow rumped warbler brevard florida? (Big hint)

Cute, sad, strange, and funny typos and silly searches: longheaded shrike; loggerhead shriker; migration patter; my favarite bird; atarve rock eagles; srarved rock eagle watch; and straved rock eagle.

I wish I could help folks trying to identify birds. Visitors came via searches for yellow birds northern illinois (not a whole lot besides warblers), yellow birds at animal kingdom (shouldn’t be too hard to ID these), animal kingdom at disney bird with green plumage (ditto), midwestern bird look like hawk short beaked (It looked like a hawk? Well it probably was a hawk, silly!), bird like a eagle (huh?), and cute tire birds (HUH?).

More HUH? searches: +plumbing color spoon-billed sandpiper; disturbed birds; and my baby was crying and I hear a barred owl after. Whoa.

Finally, what a nice thing to see in my search statistics: vulture activities for kids. Oh, I hope they found what they were looking for!

Previous posts in this semi-annual monthly series are here: search terms.

Posted in Funny, Search Terms | Leave a comment

FOXY

Yesterday I decided to sleep in and skip a morning bird walk. Of course this resulted in me feeling antsy by the afternoon, so after a surprise soaking afternoon rain I headed out the door and biked to Gemini Springs. It was just about half past three and the clouds persisted. It looked like it might rain again at any moment so in the dreary weather I took an accelerated hike through my usual haunts. It was a nice short walk and I picked up 35+ species, a good total considering the time of day.

I walked back to my bike, stowed my gear, and headed out of the park, intending to make one last quick stop at a stand of snags to see if an immature Red-headed Woodpecker was hanging out in its usual spot. It was. Target acquired, I straddled my bike and was just about to leave when a small flock of birds landed in the grass between the bike path and the snags. I scanned the flock, finding only Yellow-rumped Warblers. The last bird my binoculars landed on was partially obscured by grass, but I could see a stocky reddish figure scooting in the grass — just like a Fox Sparrow.

ZOINKS! A Fox Sparrow?!?!!!!!!!!!!11!!!

To give you an idea why I was so excited at the prospect of finding a Fox Sparrow at my local patch in central Florida, here is a USGS map of Christmas Bird Count sightings. This gives a good idea of the winter range for this species.

Fox Sparrow Range

I watched the bird for just about a half minute before fumbling to leave my bike (which I was still straddling) and fumbling for my camera. In my clumsiness and excitement I lost sight of the bird. Oh noes!

So I waited. And waited. After about 15 minutes, the Yellow-rumped Warblers returned to forage in the grass. No Big Red. I waited a few more minutes before pulling up Fox Sparrow on the Sibley app on my iPhone. I played the bird’s song and to my amazement and utter delight, a foxy Fox Sparrow landed in a small tree just twenty yards from where I was standing. The light was POOR but I started snapping away. The resulting shots are fine for ID but not much more. The bird perched for a good three minutes so I was able to watch it for a while too. What a beauty! (Seriously, Fox Sparrows are gorgeous. Here’s a better Fox Sparrow photo.)

Fox Sparrow

This morning, Arthur and I returned to Gemini Springs and Arthur spotted the sparrow in the same general area where I found it yesterday. I wonder how much longer the bird will linger here? Some migrants are already on the move. It probably won’t be too long for the Fox Sparrow, either.

Posted in Florida, Gemini Springs, Rare / Vagrant | 2 Comments

Bird-a-Day 50

Red-tailed Hawk
12-FEB: Red-tailed Hawk | Spring-to-spring Trail, Volusia Co. FL

Today is the 50th day of the year, and I’m still alive in the Bird-a-Day Challenge.

Since my last update on January 17th, I’ve added 33 birds.

Ten birds came from Gemini Springs or the adjacent Spring-to-spring Trail: Hermit Thrush; Eastern Phoebe; Merlin; Forster’s Tern; Green-winged Teal; House Wren; Red-tailed Hawk; Belted Kingfisher; Swamp Sparrow; and today’s American Bittern.

Swamp Sparrow
17-FEB: Swamp Sparrow | Gemini Springs, Volusia Co. FL

Another eight birds came from our back yard. I always have a tiny little feeling of despair when I have to use a yard bird for the challenge, even though I have a lot of yard birds yet to use. A fair bunch of the birds I used are migrants that will soon leave, plus there was a pair of seldom-seen-anywhere species that I shouldn’t lament at all. The latest yard birds: Palm Warbler (ouch but will leave for the summer); Brown-headed Cowbird (abundant last year but a three-day wonder this season (so far)); Common Ground-Dove (new yard bird and seldom seen by me otherwise); Black-and-white Warbler (a rare yard visitor); Ruby-throated Hummingbird (visited two days after putting up the feeders and a regular visitor since); Yellow-rumped Warbler (ouch but will leave for the summer); Yellow-throated Warbler (seldom seen by me anywhere); and Chipping Sparrow (ouch but will leave soon).

Common Ground-Dove
26-JAN: Common Ground-Dove | our yard, Volusia Co. FL

A few birds came from neighborhood outings or errand runs: a Gray Catbird and flyover Sandhill Cranes while house-hunting; and a Pied-billed Grebe pit-stop on the way home.

I picked up three nice birds during the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife festival at the end of January. I didn’t take a lot of field trips but Arthur and I had the chance to visit Merritt Island during the festival where I picked up Lesser Yellowlegs and Eurasian Wigeon. I used a lifer, Bridled Tern, during the festival’s pelagic trip.

There were just two Disney birds in this bunch: a Eurasian Collared-Dove at the Magic Kingdom and a lovely posing Cooper’s Hawk at Hollywood Studios.

Cooper's Hawk
08-FEB: Cooper’s Hawk | Hollywood Studios, Orange Co. FL photo by Arthur de Wolf

I also picked up a pair of birds at a new-to-me birding spot in nearby Deltona: Audubon Park. There I added Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer. Two more came from morning walks at Lake Woodruff NWR: Brown-headed Nuthatch (when we were looking for Red-breasted!) and Sora.

Finally, I picked up another lifer (American Pipit) on a targeted outing, a coastal bird on a day I joined Arthur on his volunteering day (Common Loon), and a flock of Cedar Waxwings at my volunteer gig.

Common Loon
05-FEB: Common Loon | Port Orange Causeway Park, Volusia Co. FL

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll last! With no travel planned I’m afraid I’ll be burning up regular, common local birds at a crazy rate. Hopefully there are some surprises out there for me! Bird on!

Posted in Bird-a-Day Challenge, Gemini Springs, Life List | Leave a comment

Do squirrels eat oranges?

It would appear that yes, squirrels enjoy a bit of citrus in their diet from time to time. At least the Eastern Gray Squirrels here in Volusia County, Florida, seem to enjoy them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Last year our orange trees didn’t produce any fruit, so this is the first time I’ve seen any squirrel-on-orange action in the yard.

Do squirrels eat oranges?

I’ve seen them peeling fallen fruit, but I’ve also seen them go after fruit on the tree.

Do squirrels eat oranges?

I’ve seen squirrels carrying oranges around the yard in their mouths, which is pretty freaking adorable.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers also eat from the oranges, but I am not 100% sure if they are eating the fruit or the ants and other insects attracted to the sweetness. Yellow-rumped Warblers also visit the oranges, and I’m pretty sure they are after the ants.

Posted in Florida, Not Birds, Yard Birds | Leave a comment

Cheer, cheer, cheer for Stumpy

I like watching our back yard birds. From my office, I can’t look out the window into the yard without getting up from my desk. This is a good thing — if I could look out the window without standing up, I probably wouldn’t get any work done at all. Anyway, I keep a notepad by the window and on many days I keep a count of the birds I see visiting the yard. This count usually includes at least one Northern Cardinal.

On December 25th we had a new yard bird, a female Painted Bunting, which was a wonderful Christmas gift for me. We have seen her a handful of times since, but in the days following Christmas I kept a closer eye on the feeders than usual.

On December 26th I noticed an injured female Northern Cardinal at our feeders. She had a dangly, badly broken leg. I saw her again on December 30th, then again on January 4th, and January 6th. Then on January 8th she came in to a feeder with just a stump where her dangling leg used to be. I began to refer to her as “Stumpy.”

Stumpy

Now I see her just about every other day. I put safflower seed and sunflower seed (cardinal favorites) out in a variety of different feeder types so she could use the ones she could perch on most comfortably. When I first saw her, she was very clumsy, fluttering her wings often as she fed, to keep her balance. Now she is using all types of perches like a champ, and takes seed from several different feeders with relative ease.

Stumpy

Stumpy is mostly in the company of a male cardinal. I am so happy every time I see her. There is at least one other pair of cardinals that comes in each day so I always look carefully at each female cardinal to see if it is Stumpy. My most recent sighting was this afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Stumpy's companion
Stumpy’s companion

We are starting to hear cardinals singing their spring songs. Pretty, pretty, pretty and cheer, cheer cheer. Both male and female cardinals sing. Maybe I will be lucky enough to see Stumpy and her mate courting in the coming weeks.

Posted in Yard Birds | Leave a comment

Birding Gemini Springs, January 2013

In January I submitted 11 eBird checklists from Gemini Springs (the start of a new year of the Bird-a-Day Challenge is a big extra motivation to get out and bird). I saw a total of 68 species; the complete list is at the end of this post.

New for my all-time Gemini Springs list were: Common Ground-Dove; Eastern Bluebird; Merlin; Red-headed Woodpecker; and Wilson’s Snipe. Here are some of my favorite photos from the month.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | 02-JAN-13

There were several mornings that started off with thick fog. Birds may have been singing, but they were hard to spot in the mist.

hazy sun
Hazy sun | 06-JAN-13

I had been taking a certain route each visit, neglecting a portion of the woods I used to visit more often. I decided to walk through the woods one morning and check out a stand of snags where Pileated Woodpeckers and Mourning Doves like to hang out. I was pleasantly surprised to see a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker — my first at Gemini Springs — checking out a few snags. Later I spotted a second bird.

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker | 06-JAN-13

American Robins
American Robins | 06-JAN-13

more reflections
A clear morning | 07-JAN-13

Early in the month I got a new camera, the Canon SX50 HS. I am still warming up to it. Arthur took the photo below with my old camera, the Canon SX40 HS.

NOMO & berries
Northern Mockingbird | 08-JAN-13 | photo by Arthur de Wolf

Wood Stork
Wood Stork | 08-JAN-13

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird | 15-JAN-13

morning
sunrise | 15-JAN-13

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird | 15-JAN-13

Wood Stork in the fog
Wood Stork in fog | 26-JAN-13

kayak in the fog
Kayak fishing in the fog | 26-JAN-13

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker | 26-JAN-13

Grey Catbird filter
Photoshop fun with a Grey Catbird | 30-JAN-13

Gemini Springs, January 2013 month list
Blue-winged Teal – Anas discors
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
Great Egret – Ardea alba
Snowy Egret – Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron – Egretta caerulea
Tricolored Heron – Egretta tricolor
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Wilson’s Snipe – Gallinago delicata
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-headed Woodpecker – Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Merlin – Falco columbarius
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue-headed Vireo – Vireo solitarius
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tree Swallow – Tachycineta bicolor
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
House Wren – Troglodytes aedon
Marsh Wren – Cistothorus palustris
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Regulus calendula
Eastern Bluebird – Sialia sialis
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Orange-crowned Warbler – Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Savannah Sparrow – Passerculus sandwichensis
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

Posted in Gemini Springs | Leave a comment

January Florida pelagic fun

I had a lot of fun on last week’s pelagic trip, the final event of the annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. I managed to track where we went just fine, but I missed a couple of great birds. Oops!

drawbridge
Going under the causeway

Shortly after we left the inlet, the boat slowed down and we heard over the loudspeaker that there was a possible Razorbill being seen at 3 o’clock (the opposite side of the boat from where I stood). I stumbled over, but the bird never resurfaced and we moved on. I had missed the bird but at least I heard and understood the announcement.

For the rest of the trip I swear I couldn’t understand anything coming out of the loudspeaker! Sometimes other birders would call out so the rest of us could get on a bird. At one point I honestly think I heard it announced that there was an “Audubon’s Bridled Phalarope at 3 o’clock.” WTH!?

shrimp boat
Shrimp boat with no gull groupies

I missed seeing a Brown Booby that was spotted from the opposite side of the boat. I ran over but the bird was gone by the time I got word. And during a comfort break I missed seeing a Bridled Tern perched on a buoy which was apparently giving crippling views. I had seen a distant but clear Bridled Tern earlier in the trip so this miss didn’t sting too bad — even though it was a lifer. The Booby would’ve been, too. Bummer. But really, I have to save some good looks and lifers for the next pelagic, don’t I?

preparing the chum
Chopping up fish for chum

Mates prepared chunks of fish to use for chum (pelagic standard operating procedure). For most of the trip, a disgusting slop was tossed out behind the boat to attract birds.

chumming
Chumming

backlit gulls
Gulls attracted to the chum

Laughing, Ring-billed, Herring, and both Black-backed Gulls followed us several miles out.

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull
Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull

Northern Gannets joined them, and we had the opportunity to study these large seabirds in their various plumages. The previous link goes to a slideshow of fabulous gannet photos taken by Laura Erickson, who was also on the pelagic trip. I was glad to have the pleasure to visit with Laura, albeit very briefly, before we reached port at the end of the day.

Royal Tern
Royal Tern

We were also treated to nice views of Royal Terns as they soared behind and beside the boat.

When we were at about 40 miles out, but on our way back in, we slowed to release a very young Loggerhead Sea Turtle. The turtle had been in the care of the Marine Science Center for the past several weeks and Arthur had the chance to look after it during some of his volunteer shifts. The youngster was released among some clusters of sea grass.

baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle
baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle

The rest of the trip back in was rather uneventful, bird-wise. People got to chatting and I moved around the boat, talking with some of the nicest birders I’ve ever met. Bruce Anderson brought out a small collection of study skins and gave an impromptu lecture on the identification of birds like kittiwakes, phalaropes, and the like. He even had a specimen of a young Razorbill, a casualty from the recent Florida invasion.

pretty sky
pretty sky

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

All in all, it was a fun day out on the water. I got sunburned (will I ever learn?). I got one lifer. I got a bunch of new county birds (number one on eBird, baby!). I got to talk to some of the best of the best in Florida birding. Oh, and I got to meet and bird with Greg Miller. Yes, the Greg Miller.

THE Greg Miller & me
THE Greg Miller & me

Yes, it was a great pelagic trip that will be hard to beat! Until next time! Haha!

Posted in Festivals & Events, Pelagic | 2 Comments

Ecdysis & Exuvia

I am not holding a crab in this photo. I am holding an exuvia.

exuvia

I found this exoskeleton at Canaveral National Seashore. I was looking at a huge horseshoe crab shell when I almost stepped on this neat little thing. Ecdysis is the process of molting the exoskeleton in invertebrate species. I wish I knew what kind of crab this specimen came from.

Posted in Florida, Not Birds, Offbeat | Leave a comment

My visitors came from *where* in January 2013?!?!

Last year I split this personal blog off from MagnificentFrigatebird.com. With the split, I thought it would be fun to revive this monthly series where I examine some of the more interesting or outrageous search terms found in my statcounter. You can see previous posts in this series, which ran during 2009 and 2011, here. So, what brought people to my blog last month?

I was happy to see searches for Gemini Springs Bald Eagles, gemini springs bears, and Barred Owls in Gemini Springs Park. Glad to see my favorite place get some love from the internet.

Someone wondered, can you own an owl in illinois? It’s not simple. For education purposes, one may apply for a permit to keep an owl. In addition to any state requirements, a permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must also be obtained. Someone else wondered how to obtain an illinois owl permit. I wish them well with their search because I had a hard time finding any type of wildlife rehabilitation or education permit information on the Illinois DNR website.

Some silly typos or spelling mistakes came up: sawette owl; colonial of Bank Swallows; euroasian spoonbill chicks; wanxwings in netherlands;

I just love that someone searched for sharm el sheikh sewage and found this blog! Hopefully this post was helpful.

The most intriguing search term of the month: endangered bird that travels in small flocks digs holes in trees next to nest. Anyone know what this might be? Someone else was looking for skinny white bird with pure white feathers and orange bill with orange legs – I’m thinking White Ibis, maybe?

Posted in Search Terms | Leave a comment