Category Archives: Gemini Springs

2012 Birding Highlights

I added 19 birds to my life list in 2012. All but two came here in Florida; I saw a cagey Hooded Warbler in Tennessee in October, and then there was a flycatcher on the wrong side of town in Illinois (see below). Besides adding to my life list, I had some great birding experiences over the last twelve months, most of them in my new home state. Here are some of my favorite birding moments of 2012.

The first lifer of the year came on the first day of the year. Arthur and I took a New Year’s dip in the ocean at Port Orange, then settled down for some birding. Northern Gannets were not unexpected; this was a bird we whiffed on multiple times in the Netherlands but hadn’t really sought out in Florida until that day. We were rewarded with mediocre looks which have since been much improved upon.

On March 23rd we twitched a pair of Whooping Cranes in neighboring Lake County. Though these reintroduced birds are not technically “countable,” we enjoyed seeing our first truly wild Whooping Cranes just a short drive from our home.

Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane in Lake County, 23 March 2012

I had a fabulous time following a Barred Owl family at Gemini Springs throughout much of April and May.

Barred Owls
Barred Owl pair at Gemini Springs, 27 May 2012

In May Arthur and I had the opportunity to help out a family of Cooper’s Hawks. We rescued the fallen chicks after their nest fell apart, and later assisted tree climber extraordinaire Jim as he constructed a new nest platform and reunited the babies to their attentive parents.

four Cooper's Hawk babies
Cooper’s Hawk babies a few days after nest replacement, 26 May 2012

In September Arthur and I enjoyed an educational field trip to learn about Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. We got our lifer birds and also learned a great deal about the work being done to save them from extinction.

Artificial RCWO cavity
Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavity maintenance, 28 September 2012

I saw my lifer Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Illinois in October, then added it to my Florida list a couple of weeks later. Both gave pretty good looks but I couldn’t add either to my county lists of choice.

The last lifer of the year came a ten days ago when a Razorbill swam into the inlet at Lighthouse Point. They seem to have been hit-or-miss at the park in the last few days; I hope this will be one of my first birds of 2013. ๐Ÿ™‚ In just a couple of days they will ALL BE NEW BIRDS MWAHAHAHA!

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Birding Gemini Springs November 2012

I’ve missed doing my regular round-up posts about Gemini Springs, my local patch, since my last report for May 2012. I didn’t get out too much during the summer and I was gone for the entire month of October, but I managed six checklists for November. So it seems like now is a good time to start up once again.

During the month, I saw 57 different species at Gemini Springs, compared to 48 species during November last year (also six checklists). I’m up to 102 species for the year at Gemini Springs. During November I added Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, and Loggerhead Shrike to my patch year list. The complete list is below.

On November 10th I saw a large pile of scat along the path I call “warbler alley.” I took a photo with my keys in it for some scale and posted on Facebook using my smartphone. Within minutes some online friends confirmed that it was indeed bear poop, my first at Gemini Springs. The next time I went out, I found a bunch more. I don’t know if bears are suddenly hanging around the park (they are certainly in our town but I thought there were more on the other side of US17/US92) or if I just never happened to notice piles of bear scat around before last month. I also noticed two raided nests in the area, which I suspect may have been raided by bears.

bear poop
Florida Black Bear scat, 10 November 2012

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe, 10 November 2012

On November 21st I saw one of the Bald Eagles fly in to land on a utility pole. Her (guess) talons were empty but as soon as she landed on the pole, she started to eat something. Maybe a gift cached there from her mate? Later that morning I saw her perched on a different pole. Her mate flew over and I was hoping very badly that they might fly together, because I’m just dying to see this.

Bald Eagle noms
Bald Eagle eating cached food, 21 November 2012

White Peacock
White Peacock, 21 November 2012

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk, 21 November 2012

Fiery Skipper
Fiery Skipper, 21 November 2012

Limpkin ballet
Preening Limpkin, 21 November 2012

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle, 21 November 2012 | I edited out a utility wire from the background of this picture

hummingbird impression
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher hummingbird impression, 26 November 2012

Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron, 26 November 2012

hovercraft
Levitating Pileated Woodpecker, 26 November 2012

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker silhouette, 28 November 2012

Loggerhead Shrike
Distant Loggerhead Shrike, 28 November 2012

Northern Mockingbird
Desaturated Northern Mockingbird, 28 November 2012

Gemini Springs bird list, November 2012
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
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Sharp-shinned Hawk – Accipiter striatus
Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Limpkin – Aramus guarauna
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
Loggerhead Shrike – Lanius ludovicianus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
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
American Robin – Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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(I gotta get) Back to my patch

Summer is rushing by and sometimes it feels like I have a bit too much going on. Too much fun, maybe, but certainly too much non-birding stuff!

While looking for birds during the June Challenge, I almost completely neglected my local patch – I only birded there twice! This means there will be no “Birding Gemini Springs” post for June 2012. I hope my readers can forgive this devastating news!

For this little post, I’m playing blog catch-up and returning to my favorite species, the Barred Owl, and the Gemini Springs family made famous in earlier Powered By Birds posts like “I discovered a Barred Owl family at Gemini Springs” and “Barred Owls growing up”.

During visits to the park in May, my luck at finding the Barred Owls continued, mostly to the extremely vocal nature of the hungry juveniles.

Barred Owl
Adult Barred Owl | 16 May 2012

Barred Owls
Juvenile Barred Owls | 16 May 2012

Barred Owls
Adult Barred Owls | 27 May 2012

The babies continued to make handy-for-birders begging hiss noises, even when they were clearly well-fed. Look at this baby hanging on to an Eastern Mole.

Mole for lunch
Juvenile Barred Owls | 4 June 2012

Barred Owls
Juvenile Barred Owls | 4 June 2012

This picture from July 2nd was taken on my most recent visit to Gemini Springs.

Barred Owl
Juvenile Barred Owl | 2 July 2012

Yep, it’s been 18 days since I’ve been to my local patch. And that’s just not right! I’m going to have to do something about that…

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Birding Gemini Springs, May 2012

I birded Gemini Springs five times during May, tallying just 45 species for the month.

A lot of my birding time at the park was spent watching a family of Barred Owls and a pair of Red-shouldered Hawk fledglings. I will have some separate follow up posts with these birds of prey in the coming days. The photos below represent the non-baby-raptor highlights from May.

New for the year list: Swallow-tailed Kite; Northern Bobwhite (heard only; may have heard them earlier but not noted); Roseate Spoonbill (flyovers – first ever for my Gemini Springs list); Ruby-throated Hummingbird (another Gemini Springs all-time first for me). The complete list is at the end of this post.

Anhinga
Anhinga | 2 May 2012

Black-and-white Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler | 2 May 2012

Anhinga
Anhinga | 4 May 2012

Gulf Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary | 4 May 2012

itchy
Great Blue Heron | 4 May 2012

RBWO
Red-bellied Woodpecker | 4 May 2012

Raptors were not the only juvenile birds I saw at Gemini Springs in May. On the 4th, a family of Pileated Woodpeckers worked a few trees together, traveling from trunk to trunk.

PIWO
Pileated Woodpeckers | 4 May 2012

PIWO
Young Pileated Woodpecker | 4 May 2012

Gemini Springs
Foggy morning | 7 May 2012

Gemini Springs
Foggy morning | 7 May 2012

Common Snapping Turtle
Common Snapping Turtle | 7 May 2012

Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher with prey | 27 May 2012

May 2012 bird list, Gemini Springs

Northern Bobwhite – Colinus virginianus
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
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Roseate Spoonbill – Platalea ajaja
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Swallow-tailed Kite – Elanoides forficatus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Black-necked Stilt – Himantopus mexicanus
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Archilochus colubris
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

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Ubiquitous Tyrant

All of the photos in this post are from a 4 May 2012 Gemini Springs outing.

Great Crested Flycatcher

I saw my first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year on March 27th, in our neighbor’s yard. About a month later, Arthur and I had some excitement when we spotted a pair of them checking a large nestbox we had put up in our back yard. When we purchased the Screech Owl box, I learned which other birds might use it – the list included a few woodpecker species and the Great Crested. So when I saw a pair flitting about in our yard, I stopped to watch them, and silently willed them to head towards the right tree. I was so excited to watch them explore the box!

Great Crested Flycatcher

The birds were eventually chased out by squirrels (who’s the tyrant?!), but we still see and hear these large flycatchers in our yard and neighborhood frequently.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Cresteds were among the 83 species I saw during my recent trip to northern Illinois. A pair of birds was exploring a few natural, woodpecker-carved cavities in trees along the Des Plaines River at Ryerson Conservation Area. Some in our group were skeptical that they nested in cavities… but I knew. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ryerson is where I first recorded this species on my life list, back in 2009.

Great Crested Flycatcher

My most recent sighting occurred this afternoon during my volunteer shift at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. I followed a pair as they flew among the trees behind a row of hawk mews. Wouldn’t it be great if they were nesting there?

Great Crested getaway

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Barred Owls growing up

I continued to visit the Barred Owl family at Gemini Springs as much as I could last month. And I took a lot of photos. You have been warned. ๐Ÿ™‚

baby Barred Owls
both babies | 16 April 2012

On April 20th I was kind of surprised to find one of the adults feeding a baby. Earlier I had seen adults delivering small prey items to the babies but this meal seemed to be a large rat or maybe a pocket gopher. The adult bit off pieces and fed them to the baby.

Barred Owl adult feeding baby
begging baby | 20 April 2012

Barred Owl adult feeding baby
Barred Owl feeding baby | 20 April 2012

got yer nose
“got your nose!!” | 20 April 2012

feeding baby | 20 April 2012

When they were done, the adult flew off with the remains of the prey and perched on her own, away from the baby.

Barred Owl
a break after feeding baby | 20 April 2012

Four days later I was watching the Red-shouldered Hawk nest, which is in a different part of the park than where I generally find the Barred Owls. I was taking photos of baby Red-shouldered Hawks when I suddenly heard the unmistakeable hiss of a baby Barred Owl coming from just behind where I was standing. After a bit of searching, I found one baby and one adult Barred Owl.

baby Barred Owl dead center
here baby sits dead center in the frame | 24 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
baby Barred Owl | 24 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
baby Barred Owl | 24 April 2012

This location is about 350 yards from the usual Barred Owl spot. I don’t know if the babies are strong fliers at this age (which I don’t really know, exactly). Could the baby have flown all the way to this new spot? If not, would two families of Barred Owls nest so close together? Arthur and I had seen one adult Barred Owl in this area once before. Hmm.

Barred Owls
baby Barred Owl with parent | 24 April 2012

During my next two visits, on April 29th and 30th, I found all four family members back in the area where I originally found them. I noticed that one of the babies stayed very close to an adult, while the other baby had ventured off on its own to explore. The meek baby showed great alarm when a dog-walker passed by, even clacking its beak and scrambling along a branch to be closer to its parent. The other baby spent all of its time looking around, seemingly on the hunt.

baby Barred Owl
bold baby Barred Owl | 29 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
bold baby Barred Owl | 29 April 2012


bold baby Barred Owl | 29 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
shy baby Barred Owl | 29 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
shy baby Barred Owl | 29 April 2012

I’ve had so much fun watching this beautiful family of owls. I hope I’ll be able to continue locating and observing them as they grow up.

Barred Owl (bold baby)
bold baby Barred Owl | 30 April 2012

Barred Owl (shy baby)
shy baby Barred Owl | 30 April 2012

Barred Owls (shy baby & parent (mom?))
shy baby Barred Owl with adult (mom?) | 30 April 2012


preening Barred Owl (dad?) | 30 April 2012

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Birding Gemini Springs, April 2012 [part 2]

I entered 13 eBird checklists for Gemini Springs in April, recording a total of 67 species. The complete list of 67 birds is at the end of this post.

I posted about the birding Gemini Springs during the first half of April here: Birding Gemini Springs, April 2012 [part 1]. For this second post, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay; April 16 2012

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule; April 20 2012

American Alligator
American Alligator; April 20 2012

Polistes annularis
Polistes annularis (paper wasps); April 20 2012

Polistes annularis
Polistes annularis (paper wasps); April 20 2012

skipper
Common Checkered Skipper or White Checkered Skipper; April 23 2012

thistle
thistle; April 23 2012

goof
blogger; April 23 2012

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey; April 27 2012

Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird – suddenly they were all over the park; April 27 2012

Southern Black Racer
Southern Black Racer peekaboo; April 27 2012

baby Northern Parula
baby Northern Parula; April 29 2012

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle; April 29 2012

Anhinga
Anhinga; April 30 2012

Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting; April 30 2012

April 2012 bird list, Gemini Springs

Wood Duck – Aix sponsa
Blue-winged Teal – Anas discors
Green-winged Teal – Anas crecca
Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
Least Bittern – Ixobrychus exilis
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
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron – Nyctanassa violacea
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus
Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Sora – Porzana carolina
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Limpkin – Aramus guarauna
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Black-necked Stilt – Himantopus mexicanus
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
Eastern Kingbird – Tyrannus tyrannus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Marsh Wren – Cistothorus palustris
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Prairie Warbler – Setophaga discolor
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Indigo Bunting – Passerina cyanea
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

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Scenes from a Red-shouldered Hawk nest

After finding the Barred Owl family at Gemini Springs on April 10th, somehow I found myself at the park nearly every day that followed, just to get another look at my favorite birds. On April 11th Arthur and I overheard a park employee speaking with another visitor about a Red-shouldered Hawk nest. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that the nest was in rather plain view, but somehow I had missed it until it was pointed out to us with at least two babies inside already becoming independent though not yet fledged.

That first day, we only managed to see one baby, who looked to be very well fed (look at that crop!). The park employee told us there were two babies on the nest.

baby Red-shouldered Hawk
11 April 2012

baby Red-shouldered Hawk
11 April 2012

A few days later I watched one of the adults hunting. It caught and ate a bright green caterpillar but did not visit the nest while I was there.

parent Red-shouldered Hawk
13 April 2012

parent Red-shouldered Hawk
13 April 2012

On April 16 I finally saw both babies in the nest. Oh my, aren’t they cute?! And again looking well-fed.

baby Red-shouldered Hawks
16 April 2012

baby Red-shouldered Hawk
16 April 2012

Just four days later, they looked so different! I saw a parent deliver food to them a few times on this visit.

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
20 April 2012

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawks
20 April 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk food delivery
20 April 2012

On April 23rd I again only managed to see one of the babies. I later learned via a Facebook acquaintance that one of the babies probably fledged that day.

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
23 April 2012

On April 24th there was still one baby hanging out in the nest tree, possibly pre-fledge.

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
24 April 2012

Today I lucked out by finding a juvenile fly into the nest tree with an adult. The adult took off immediately while the baby waited (and I got to take some photos).

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
4 May 2012

juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
4 May 2012

Good luck, beautiful baby Red-shouldered Hawks!

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Birding Gemini Springs, April 2012 [part 1]

I completed 13 eBird checklists for Gemini Springs in April, recording a total of 67 species. Ten of these were new for the year (bold indicates new to my all-time Gemini Springs list): Least Bittern; Yellow-crowned Night-Heron; Great Crested Flycatcher; Eastern Kingbird; Red-eyed Vireo; Barn Swallow; Brown Thrasher; American Redstart; Chimney Swift; and Indigo Bunting.

April was full of fun discoveries at Gemini Springs! This blog post is part one of two, just because there’s so much I want to share. ๐Ÿ™‚

The month started out great with my first outing on April 1st. First, I saw what I presume to be a this-year’s-model Bald Eagle awkwardly land next to one of the adults I’ve often seen at the park since a pair returned to their territory back in late August.

Bald Eagles
Bald Eagles; April 1 2012

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird; April 1 2012

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal; April 1 2012

Then I really lucked out with a sighting of a Least Bittern along the Bayou. I was scanning across the water at a spot where Arthur and I had heard a Sora calling the previous week. I didn’t see anything at all until the bittern flew over and landed in my binocular view. I was happy to manage a photo or two of this tough Volusia bird before it disappeared into the reeds.

Least Bittern
Least Bittern; April 1 2012

White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar
White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar; April 1 2012

Common Snapping Turtle
Common Snapping Turtle in the parking lot, probably looking to nest; April 1 2012

On April 8th I took a very long walk into the woods along the bike path and stumbled upon some ex-armadillo bits.

ex-armadillo
ex-armadillo; April 8 2012

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren; April 8 2012

Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora incarnata; April 8 2012

Green Heron
Green Heron croaking; April 8 2012

On April 10th I found the Barred Owl family. The morning rewarded me with many other wonderful discoveries.

White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer (rarely spotted by me at Gemini Springs); April 10 2012

Downy Woodpecker
One-eyed Downy Woodpecker; April 10 2012

Pearl Crescent
Pearl Crescent; April 10 2012

Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird; April 10 2012

Peninsula Ribbon Snake
Peninsula Ribbon Snake; April 10 2012

Limpkin
Limpkin; April 10 2012

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk; April 10 2012

tiger moth sp
Tiger Moth sp caterpillar; April 10 2012

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird; April 10 2012

Gemini Springs
Gemini Springs; April 10 2012

After watching the Barred Owls that first day, it was tough to NOT visit the springs as often as possible in the following days. Finding them continued to be quite easy, as the babies weren’t shy about asking mom and dad for food. And there were still other discoveries to be made.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron; April 11 2012

Habitat For Humanity
A Habitat for Humanity wristband stuck around a post; April 13 2012

Marsh Rabbit
Marsh Rabbit; April 13 2012

Red-eared Slider
Red-eared Slider; April 13 2012

That covers the first part of April. I’ve split the month’s adventures into two posts — more to come soon!

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I discovered a Barred Owl family at Gemini Springs!

Much to my chagrin, I have zero owl-finding skills. So this post’s title isn’t really 100% accurate. Something like Baby Barred Owls make so much noise I can’t help but find them might have been more appropriate. Anyway…

On April 10th I was birding at Gemini Springs, taking my usual route over the spring run bridges on my way to the path that runs along DeBary Bayou. While crossing the second bridge, I heard the unmistakable hissy begging call of a baby owl. Naturally I followed the sound, which had me take a right after the bridge and head into the woods. A few minutes later, I sent a text message to Arthur.


iPhone photo of my camera’s viewscreen [phone screen shot edited for space / privacy]

So even though I’m lousy at finding owls, two hungry babies taking turns crying for food are hard to miss. I had located two branching babies but no adults.

baby Barred Owl
Baby Barred Owl begging for food | 10 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
Baby Barred Owl | 10 April 2012

After I sent the text and took a lot of photos of the two babies, I continued on my walk.

Before heading to my bike, I went back into the woods to see if I could relocate the owls. This time I found one of the adults perched beside a baby.

Barred Owl
Adult (#1) Barred Owl | 10 April 2012

I texted Arthur again and he indicated he was on his way over, so I sat down to wait. That’s when I saw the second adult bird fly in to deliver a green anole to one of the babies. After the delivery, the adult perched nearby. Of course I took more photos, which is what I was doing when Arthur joined me.

Barred Owl
Adult (#2) Barred Owl | 10 April 2012

Barred Owl
Adult (#2) Barred Owl | 10 April 2012

Barred Owl dead center
Superzoom! The adult (#2) Barred Owl is dead center | 10 April 2012

Here are a few more photos of the second adult Barred Owl: Sleepy Barred Owl; Alert Barred Owl; Sunning Barred Owl.

I can hardly begin to describe how happy I was to find and observe these owls. I had only seen a handful of individuals before that morning, so discovering and observing this family at length was a tremendous treat (made even more wonderful when Arthur joined me).

The next morning, April 11, Arthur and I headed back to Gemini Springs, but we were only able to locate one baby owl.

baby Barred Owl
Baby Barred Owl from behind – lots of adult feathers | 11 April 2012

baby Barred Owl
Same baby Barred Owl as pictured above | 11 April 2012

During a visit two days later, on April 13, I found one baby and one adult.

baby Barred Owl
Fluff! | 13 April 2012

Barred Owl
Adult Barred Owl searching for prey | 13 April 2012

I guess you can tell I can’t get enough of these beautiful owls. I have returned to Gemini Springs to look for the owls (and other birds!) a few more times in the last weeks. I’ll have some more photos to share in the coming days (you have been warned!).

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Posted in Behavior, Gemini Springs, Volusia Birding | 1 Comment