Back home

In May I paid a short visit to my parents and spent some time relaxing in their suburban Chicagoland back yard, observing their winged visitors.

American Robin
American Robin post bath | 20-MAY-13

Blue Jay
Blue Jay | 18-MAY-13

Common Grackle
Common Grackle | 20-MAY-13

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird | 18-MAY-13

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker | 18-MAY-13

I was delighted to see a Gray Catbird visiting the grape jelly feeders. I think this was my first sighting of this species in their yard.

Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird | 19-MAY-13

The number of orioles visiting the grape jelly and oranges on offer was ridiculous. An embarrassment of orioles. Also, really good plumage study opportunities.

Baltimore Oriole 5
Baltimore Oriole | 18-MAY-13

Baltimore Oriole 2
Baltimore Oriole | 18-MAY-13

Baltimore Oriole 1
Baltimore Oriole | 18-MAY-13

Baltimore Oriole 3
Baltimore Oriole | 18-MAY-13

Baltimore Oriole 6
Baltimore Oriole | 19-MAY-13

Baltimore Oriole 7
Baltimore Oriole | 20-MAY-13

My dad made the grape jelly feeders from rejected Sweet Tomatoes ice cream bowls. He noted that some of the orioles would perch on the bowl, while others would stand next to it and stretch their neck to reach the jelly. Maybe the bird’s position depended on the volume of jelly in the bowl? This individual had a half-half wide stance.

Baltimore Oriole 4
Baltimore Oriole | 18-MAY-13

One afternoon I watched an Orchard Oriole poking its head into probably hundreds of blossoms on a very large apple tree. I observed the bird on and off over the course of about six hours. That’s one busy oriole. He left no blossom left unsucked!

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole | 18-MAY-13

A while back Arthur and I gave my dad a peek-a-boo birdhouse that has a plexiglass-protected hinged side for nest vieiwing. The idea is that observers can lift open up the wooden outside panel and quickly view the inside with minimal disturbance to the birds. My dad isn’t interested in disturbing the birds at all. I appreciate that, but I just couldn’t resist taking a peek during my visit. I looked once early on my week-long visit, and once more just before I left. Both times I found a Black-capped Chickadee sitting on eggs. In this very quickly-snapped photo you can see the tail feathers of the incubating adult pressed against the plexiglass wall. To the right you can see her beak as she turns her head to the side. Look at the soft moss bed that makes up the base of the nest.

Black-capped Chickadee nest
Black-capped Chickadee on nest | 16-MAY-13

During all of this bird-watching I had to contend with the overpowering odor emanating from a blooming lilac bush. It was tough, let me tell you.

stinky lilac
FRAGRANT | 18-MAY-13

Soon Arthur and I will head north to visit my parents once more. I think I’ll see many of the same birds this summer as I saw during late spring, but believe it or not, migration is underway (it kind of always is, actually).

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Banded Sandhill Crane

after

On May 10, 2012, I took a hike at my old patch, Rollins Savanna, while visiting my parents in Lake County, Illinois. During my walk I saw a trio of Sandhill Cranes.

apulets

The birds were remarkable for two reasons: 1) they were being harassed by a determined Red-winged Blackbird, and 2) one of the cranes was banded. I dutifully reported the sighting.

Banded Sandhill Crane

Two weeks ago, I received this certificate of appreciation. Click the certificate to see full size.

cert_small

The bird I saw was about three years old at the time and was banded not too far away at Chain O Lakes State Park as a pre-fledgling. How cool is that? This was the first time I reported a banded bird (though since then I reported another and heard back from the bander shortly thereafter). This is the first green certificate I’ve received. πŸ˜€

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Birding Gemini Springs, June 2013

I birded Gemini Springs 5 times in June, finding just 39 different species. This is a huge improvement over the measly 27 species I found there last June (in just two outings). I was deep into my first June Challenge in 2012, which is why I kind of neglected my local patch last year. This year I kind of neglected birding altogether and just succumbed to the heat. BAD BIRDER!! Anyway, my total June 2013 list is at the end of this post. And I was able to add a new species to my Gemini Springs list. Early in the month I heard an Eastern Towhee calling close to the bike trail access parking lot.

Anhinga
Anhinga | 02-JUN-13

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker at nest cavity | 02-JUN-13

On June 2nd I stopped at one of the bridges to chat with a couple that was walking a pair of dogs. The friendly woman pointed out a basking Red-eared Slider to me and mentioned that she never saw turtles at the park — and that she was there several times a week. This was really surprising to me as I would estimate that I see turtles 95% of the time I visit Gemini Springs. I don’t often see them basking like this one and I hardly ever photograph them.

Red-eared Slider
Red-eared Slider | 02-JUN-13

The most interesting find for the month was a pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks I was surprised to find standing on the fishing pier early in the month. This was the third time I’ve seen this species at the park; the previous sightings were in August 2011 and August 2012.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Black-bellied Whistling Duck | 04-JUN-13

gator
American Alligator | 04-JUN-13

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron | 04-JUN-13

Spicebush Swallowtail
Spicebush Swallowtail | 04-JUN-13

Boat-tailed Grackle female
Boat-tailed Grackle relaxing on the fishing pier | 16-JUN-13

Common Gallinule
Preening Common Gallinule | 16-JUN-13

Fish Crows
Begging baby Fish Crows | 16-JUN-13

Summer is a traditional time for birders to start paying attention to local odes. Odes is short for odonates, which is the taxonomical order of dragonflies and damselflies. It’s true, the odes (and leps) were calling in June.

Eastern Pondhawk male
Eastern Pondhawk male | 28-JUN-13

Golden-winged-Skimmer
Golden-winged Skimmer | 28-JUN-13

Gulf Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary | 28-JUN-13

rushing water
Muscovy Duck in rushing spring water | 28-JUN-13

Mourning Dove in morning light
Mourning Dove & Carolina Wren in tree | 28-JUN-13

June 2013 bird list, Gemini Springs

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck – Dendrocygna autumnalis
Muscovy Duck – Cairina moschata
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
Green Heron – Butorides virescens
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-shouldered Hawk – Buteo lineatus
Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis
Common Gallinule – Gallinula galeata
American Coot – Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Chimney Swift – Chaetura pelagica
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Eastern Towhee – Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

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Tricolored Heron fish snatch dance

Tricolored Heron

For the longest time I would misspell Tricolored Heron as Tri-colored Heron. In fact, I just searched this blog and found three instances in older posts. Le sigh. I think I’ve finally got it through my thick skull. I hope so, anyway.

Tricolored Heron

Lucky me, Tricolored Herons are regulars at my local patch. They can be a bit frenetic in their hunting behavior. This sequence shows one individual snatching a little snack.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

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

Here are the highlights and lowlights from my little corner of the interwebs during the last month.

Statcounter, GO!

I hope the person who searched for a list of birds at flights of wonder found what s/he was looking for… but if not, another search in a week or so might be helpful. πŸ™‚

eBird bait came in the form of the search what kinds of birds are native to volusia county? The answer can be found by using eBird’s great Bar Charts feature.

Sometimes I wish there was an eSnake, as may the persons who searched for florida snakes volusia county and florida snakes identification. The Florida Museum of Natural History has a handy List of Florida Snakes which is a good place to start. I get visitors looking for snakes and other herps coming in on my Herpetology Life List.

I was interested to see someone searching for the birds of prey maitland fl live web cam. Last month a site sharing feeds from the large flight chamber at ACBOP went live. It can be found here: Eagle Eyes on the Environment Disney Flight Barn Cams. If you tune in Thursday mornings, you just might catch a glimpse of ME! πŸ™‚

The search man made great horned owl nest made me giggle because it reminded me of this photo. And the cute typo oreo bird nest was good for a chuckle, too.

Happy July!!

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Gallinule War!

It’s been hot. High-in-the-mid-90s-F-every-day hot. The humidity has been hovering at about 100% at dawn, so it feels just a wee bit oppressive. Maybe the heat wave was behind the aggressive behavior I saw among a few Common Gallinules at Gemini Springs last week? An overcast sky really kept the air saturated. It was sticky and uncomfortable. And everybody was kung-fu fighting, basically.

One pair was already going at it when a second pair started to mix it up. You can see the bird in the center of the photo spewing forth a murderous war cry. A millisecond later – BATTLE!

Gallinule War!

Gallinule War!

Scuffles were sometimes initiated by aggressive wing-waving and sunken body position.

Gallinule War!

Gallinule War!

After the flapping, the big guns came out – those crazy gallinule feet.

Gallinule War!

Gallinule War!

Gallinule War!

You can see posturing, grabbing, flapping and finally what I would call sailboating in this video, which was taken after all of the above photos were snapped.

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Flash of red

I saw a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. I looked over and saw a Northern Cardinal perched on the side mirror of a car parked at Gemini Springs.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinals are abundant at the park; something else caught my eye and I looked the other way. Soon I was distracted by another flash of red — the cardinal again. I raised my camera and caught the male cardinal in the act: he was attacking his reflection in the car window.

Northern Cardinal attacking window

I had read about this behavior (cardinals are notorious for these crazy antics) but had never seen it myself.

Northern Cardinal

Our back yard is chock-full of Northern Cardinals these days. Since the beginning of June, adult birds have been followed by hungry babies all over our property. There are several families all living within flying distance, eating alongside each other at our feeders and foraging around our yard. Despite this harmony, in fact Northern Cardinals are highly territorial, especially when it comes to nesting sites. Northern Cardinals attack mirrors, windows and other reflective surfaces to defend their nesting territory from other (perceived) Northern Cardinals.

Northern Cardinal attacking window

I photographed one attack and then walked over to the car to break it up. Hopefully when he took off at my approach, he took off for good.

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Audubon Park accessible!

Back on March 2nd I wrote a bit on a small park in Deltona, Audubon Park. At the time I had the impression that the park was somewhat underused and relatively unknown. I noted that some new signs were installed in the park so it probably was not as unknown as I suspected. However, when I went to visit the park on the morning of March 19th I found the entrance gate locked. The park was not open at sunrise as signed. A half hour after sunrise no one came to open the gate so I left, grumbling.

Open at sunrise?

I learned that on April 19th the park had its official opening by the City of Deltona. I was unable to attend but had it in mind as I went biking on the East Regional Rail Trail with Arthur and his parents on April 27th. When we reached the back entrance to the park on the bike trail, I was absolutely thrilled to see that the pedestrian gate was open and there was a sign to indicate passage to Audubon Park. Yes!

Audubon Park

We headed into the park and had a short walk around the ponds and circle path. Bird life wasn’t too abundant that afternoon, though I was happy to have good looks at a couple of Black-necked Stilts and some Spotted Sandpipers (my Bird-a-Day) running along the shoreline.

Black-necked Stilt

There was also a great new sign showcasing some of the species recorded at the park. The poster has a couple of maddening spelling and editing errors that I tried to overlook – really, it’s always great to see birds getting a shout-out.

Audubon Park

Audubon Park is a small sanctuary that Deltona has developed into a nice little destination for birders. Access from the East Regional Rail Trail bike path is open so I hope to make this a regular place to visit in my quest to add to my BIGBY species list. Now if only they would add proper bike parking! πŸ˜‰

bikes

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Birding Gemini Springs, May 2013

I was out of town for almost a week, but I still managed to bird Gemini Springs 7 times in May, coming up with a total of 45 species. That’s the same amount of species I saw there during May 2012, although only 32 are on both lists. The complete list of species for May 2013 is at the end of this post.

The last spring migrants pushed through the park during the month, though I feel like I missed most of them. In May Gemini Springs was full of growing babies. I finally found baby Barred Owls in two different parts of the park. The baby Red-shouldered Hawks continued to hang around their nest tree, and dark-billed baby Northern Cardinals were all over the place.

Painted Bunting
A lousy photo but only my 3rd Gemini Springs Painted Bunting [still looking for a male] | 03-MAY-13

Wet Barred Owl
Wet Barred Owl | 03-MAY-13

Limpkin
Limpkin | 04-MAY-13

Marsh Rabbit
Marsh Rabbit | 07-MAY-13

Northern Cardinal juv
Northern Cardinal, 2013 ed. | 07-MAY-13

Green Anole
Green Anole | 10-MAY-13

Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora incarnata, a host plant for Zebra Longwing butterflies | 10-MAY-13

Barred Owl juv
Barred Owl, 2013 ed. | 10-MAY-13

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail | 10-MAY-13

Tricolored Heron
The obligatory Tricolored Heron photo | 10-MAY-13

lantana
lantana sp | 10-MAY-13

Wild Turkey
A Wild Turkey high up in an oak tree | 10-MAY-13

Eastern Grey Squirrel
Eastern Grey Squirrel | 13-MAY-13

American Alligator
small/youngish American Alligator | 28-MAY-13

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron… this is what happened next | 28-MAY-13

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal on the singing snag | 28-MAY-13

Red-shouldered Hawk juv
Red-shouldered Hawk, 2013 ed. | 28-MAY-13

May 2013 bird list, Gemini Springs

Muscovy Duck – Cairina moschata
Northern Bobwhite – Colinus virginianus
Wild Turkey – Meleagris gallopavo
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
Great Blue Heron – Ardea herodias
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
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
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
Spotted Sandpiper – Actitis macularius
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove – Columbina passerina
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Archilochus colubris
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
American Kestrel – Falco sparverius
Great Crested Flycatcher – Myiarchus crinitus
White-eyed Vireo – Vireo griseus
Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow – Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow – Corvus ossifragus
Carolina Chickadee – Poecile carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Carolina Wren – Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – Polioptila caerulea
Gray Catbird – Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird – Mimus polyglottos
Brown Thrasher – Toxostoma rufum
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart – Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Painted Bunting – Passerina ciris
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major

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

Here are the highs and lows revealed in last month’s Statcounter logs for my little birding blog…

Some righteous dude or dudette searched for bigby birding rules. Yes it does. Rock on.

Someone wondered, are there hummingbireds in cook county Illinios? I love the chance to plug me a little eBird. Yes, there are hummingbirds in Cook County, IL.

And then someone else wanted to know do northern saw-whet owls live in Chicago to which I say: eBird has the answer. Unless you were wondering about non-releaseable education birds. I only know of one, Boopie.

To the folks looking for a brownish duck with red beak and a duck with red beak, I’m hoping you found what you were looking for. My best guess would be Black-bellied Whistling Duck if your search was anywhere near Florida USA.

Someone wanted to know: do american goldfinches remember things? What a wonderful thing to wonder. πŸ™‚

Someone searched for field museum free admission bring bird… does that mean raptor handlers get in for free? Sweet.

To the person searching for Gardening robins nest in our arborvites, should we remove it?: NO

To the person wondering American robin chicks affect of taking picture, Cornell’s NestWatch site is a wonderful resource for information on nest monitoring. Read the educational materials and take the online certification to become a nest monitor and share your data with ornithologists.

Two searches that made me giggle: what is a wood duck afraid of? and duck imprinting on high school student.

That last one seems oddly specific so it struck me as funny, but in reality a bird imprinting on a person is a serious matter. It is illegal to take a wild bird and keep it. It is nesting season now and I was extremely disturbed to find this search in my Statcounter: what to feed a baby bard owl. Two days later from the same IP address came the following search: how often do you feed a baby barred owl. An IP lookup tells me the search came from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Dear person who is caring for a baby Barred Owl in Cedar Rapids: Please get your bird to a licensed bird rehabilitation center as soon as possible. If your bird has become imprinted it cannot be released into the wild as it would never be able to fend for itself. Licensed rehabbers can properly care for injured or abandoned wild birds, and can facilitate nest replacement if feasible. No one can raise a bird better than its own parent. Please don’t keep the owl. Thank you.

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