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

April was a blur, and May is starting out just as hectic! Here’s a quick post to share a few gems from April’s stat-logs.

I had a lot of traffic coming from searches related to audubon park deltona. There was an official opening dedication for Audubon Park in April and it seems the park is neither unloved nor unknown. Later in the month I discovered that park access from the East Regional Rail Trail is now open, too! Woo hoo! Other related searches included city of deltona fl public works; deltona audobon park; ledford stormwater lush volusia Audubon; ledford water treatment volusia; and deltona “audubon park” west volusia audubon.

I still follow the Illinois birding scene online (as much as I can as a cyber-bystander living out of state) so I was surprised to see reported magnificent frigatebird in illinois 2013 and anyone seen a magnificent frigate bird in illinois 2013 in my stats, seemingly coming out of nowhere. Do any Illinois friends have some insight on this?

Someone searching for ospreys invading red-tailed hawks nests? was kind of wondering the same thing I was, apparently. I don’t think I previously revealed that our new house is within sight of the bizarre raptor drama nest (it’s just off the back yard), but I have not had the opportunity to keep tabs on this nest to see exactly what is going on. I know I see Osprey flying around back there, making a racket sometimes. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched above the nest again a couple of days ago, though.

As always, there were a few typos in the stats that made me chuckle: is this pegieon sun bathing or injured? (probaby sunbathing – they can contort their wings all kinds of crazy sometimes); vagrabt birds in florida; do loom migrate in illinois; all pigions breeds (really? is p-i-g-e-o-n so hard?); and himemade bird feeder poles.

To the person who searched for florida caterpillar identifier: I hope you eventually found this.

To the person searching for hoary redpoll meme: I hope you found this.

Finally, to the person searching for limpkin bird how to get rid of it: seriously!? I have been trying to figure out what kind of situation one could have where a Limpkin might be causing a problem. I have a vivid imagination so I can come up with some scenarios, but they’re all pretty outlandish. This search stings on a personal level because I only managed to get my FOY (First Of Year) Limpkin on April 24th. So if you need to “get rid” of a Limpkin, please send it to me. I’m really running low this year.

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Barred Owl Bathing Beauty

On March 18th I teased about a fun raptor encounter I had that topped a Bald Eagle flyby and an Osprey-Red-tailed Hawk nest fight.

What could top seeing those birds of prey in action? Only a Barred Owl.

Earlier that morning, I was standing at an overlook of one of the springs, watching a Great Blue Heron. I don’t often walk right up to the spring openings themselves, so I was surprised to see such a large bird standing right there just a few feet away from me.

In that quiet moment a Barred Owl swooped down between the heron and me, and flew down the spring run. I scrambled down the path towards where the owl was heading, trying to get a fix on its location. I found it sitting on a branch near the water.

Barred Owl

I held my breath as the bird dipped into the water to bathe. It splashed around a bit and then returned to the branch. It jumped back into the water several times. I took a little video.

After its morning dip, the owl flew up to a higher perch, but it would get no rest. Two Blue Jays began harassing the owl. I captured a moment on video: a jay dive-bombing the owl. See the slo-mo action:

I was especially thrilled to see a Barred Owl in this part of Gemini Springs. Last year a pair of owls raised a pair of chicks to branching age and beyond, and I had so much fun watching them each time I visited the park. This year I have been looking and listening for signs of nesting, but until the day I spotted this bathing beauty I had not seen any sign of owls in the same area. I’m hopeful that I will be able to see more Barred Owl action at the park in the coming weeks.

Barred Owl

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Meme Monday: Keep Calm and Carry On

If you’re not active on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Google+, you may be missing out on the joy of Internet memes. A meme (rhymes with cream) is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” An Internet meme can be as short as a catch-phrase or as complex as a video clip. A lot of memes are simple graphics which are altered to suit different topics. When a meme is hot, you can be sure there will be variants related to birds or birding.

The catchphrase Keep Calm and Carry On was used on British public safety propaganda posters in Britain during World War II. A copy of the poster was rediscovered in 2000 and its modern popularity began to grow. In November 2008 Threadless released the first known parody of the poster with their Now Panic and Freak Out shirt. Many different parodies have been published since then, including some related to birds or birding.

Keep Calm and Carry Bins

Keep Calm and Go Birding

Keep Calm and Carrion

The above images have affiliate links. If you’ve got your own ideas, it’s pretty easy to make your own using the funny Keep Calm-o-Matic website.

Keep Calm and Watch Birds

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Sweet Tooth

Sometimes birds other than hummingbirds are attracted to nectar feeders. A male Baltimore Oriole knocked my socks off the other day when I spied him on our hummingbird feeder in our back yard. As soon as he flew off I put an oriole feeder out for him but he didn’t return.

The other day I was hoping to see the Rufous Hummingbird that had been visiting Mead Gardens in Winter Park, but found this fellow instead. American Goldfinches winter in this area; soon this little migrant must be on his way. Filling up on some sweets before departure…

Sweet Tooth

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B-A-D 100 and prognosis

Today is the 100th day of the year, and I am still alive in the Bird-a-Day Challenge! But I am fading fast…

Last week Arthur and I bought a house. We got the keys late Tuesday and have been busy with it every day since. Moving stuff, cleaning everything, little repair jobs, meeting contractors, and trying to keep up at least a little bit with work has made keeping up with the challenge extremely difficult. There’s not much time to gaze at the back yard feeders at length, let alone go out birding.

Brown Thrasher
15-MAR: Brown Thrasher | DeBary, Volusia Co. FL

Since my last update on March 13th I have added 28 birds. Of these, an alarming number came from the back yard (some at the new house, some at the old house): Downy Woodpecker; Mourning Dove; Fish Crow; Blue Jay; Great Crested Flycatcher; Tufted Titmouse; and Red-bellied Woodpecker. A further five were added from various spots in DeBary as we have been running around shopping and doing house-related errands: Brown Thrasher; Pileated Woodpecker; European Starling; White Ibis; and today’s House Sparrow in the parking lot at the grocery store.

Swallow-tailed Kite
25-MAR: Swallow-tailed Kite | Gemini Springs, Volusia Co. FL

I did sneak out to Gemini Springs a bit, especially before last week, where I got 8 species. Most were expected birds: Snowy Egret; American Crow; American Coot; and Black-necked Stilt. The American Redstart I found on April 1st was my first of the year (FOY). I also had my FOY Indigo Bunting that morning and had a hard time picking which of those to use.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
26-MAR: Black-crowned Night-Heron | Gemini Springs, Volusia Co. FL

Swallow-tailed Kite is pretty common down the Spring-to-spring Trail towards Lake Monroe, so seeing one at Gemini Springs was not totally unexpected but a very pleasant surprise. (I added Sharp-shinned Hawk on a bike ride along the Spring-to-spring Trail on March 24th.) On March 26th I laughed out loud when I saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron standing across from the fishing pier — “yippee!” — BCNH is a very good bird for Gemini Springs. The very next day I was extremely surprised to see my first ever Lesser Scaup in the park, swimming in the spring run behind the dam.

Lesser Scaup
27-MAR: Lesser Scaup | Gemini Springs, Volusia Co. FL

On March 14th I stopped at Lake Monroe on the way home from Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. There I found my best bird of the day, a Common Yellowthroat. On March 21st I had the great opportunity to release a pair of Short-tailed Hawks near to where I live. The birds were picked up following a territory fight and brought to the Audubon Center for rehabilitation. Fully healed, both birds were released close to where they were first found. And the local Chimney Swifts returned to the Audubon Center last week, so they were my species of the day for April 4th.

Short-tailed Hawk
21-MAR: Short-tailed Hawk | Seminole Co. FL

Twice in the last 28 days Arthur and I went to Blue Spring State Park to see some special visitors. A cold snap on March 29th meant that the manatees might be back — and they were, probably for the last time this spring. I heard a Red-eyed Vireo for my B-A-D. Then yesterday we went back to Blue Spring to see the fireflies, which are only active for 2-3 weeks each spring. I used another heard-only bird yesterday: my FOY Chuck-will’s-widow.

An outing last month to Disney World got me Purple Martin for March 22 and a stop at Kennedy Space Center on March 19th yielded Roseate Spoonbill.


Now, since it seems like I have been bleeding easy birds of late, I made a list of the birds I can still expect to find as the challenge goes on. There are just nine birds I can expect to find in my yard or on a local errand run. There are another 10 I would expect to see on a typical day at Gemini Springs. Just getting out there is a problem these days, though. Another 4 species would be easy peasy if I could just get to where they are. See my lists below and fear for my future in the challenge when you see them get checked off! And wish me luck as we prepare the house not only for ourselves, but for house guests – nonstop from April 18 to May 6! I seriously doubt I’ll stay in the challenge through April. Surpassing or even reaching my total from last year is extremely unlikely. But I’ll certainly try!!

Remaining birds expected to see or hear (estimated % of the time) at home or locally:
(100%) Carolina Wren
(100%) Northern Cardinal
(100%) Northern Mockingbird
(100%) Osprey
(100%) Turkey Vulture
(95%) Black Vulture
(95%) Carolina Chickadee
(90%) Northern Parula
(80%) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Remaining birds expected to see or hear on a normal day at Gemini Springs:
(100%) Boat-tailed Grackle
(100%) Common Gallinule
(100%) Red-shouldered Hawk
(90%) Great Blue Heron
(90%) Red-winged Blackbird
(90%) Tricolored Heron
(85%) Great Egret
(75%) Anhinga
(75%) Barred Owl
(75%) Barn Swallow

Remaining special birds:
(100%) Eastern Towhee (at Lyonia Preserve)
(100%) Rock Pigeon (I-4 in Longwood)
(95%) Florida Scrub-Jay (at Lyonia Preserve)
(85%) Loggerhead Shrike (local neighborhood)

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F05: a famous gull

In my last Bird-a-Day Challenge update post, I briefly mentioned the bird I used for February 27th – a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Here is a little more about this special bird, F05. He is famous.

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Famous Larus

Since 2007 this bird has been observed as part of a mated pair breeding on Appledore Island in Maine. This is remarkable because it is only the second record of a Lesser Black-backed Gull (LBBG) breeding in North America, and the first record for the east coast. The female mate is a Herring Gull. Gulls generally tend to be monogamous, though F05 is known to have had at least three mates (along with a bit of drama) since 2007.

F05 and his mate(s) raised chicks that survived to fledge in 2007, 2008, and 2009. After an off year in 2010, F05 and a new mate raised a chick successfully in 2011.

In late January 2009 F05 was first seen wintering on the beach in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, during the Space Coast Birding Festival.

F05 was seen wintering in Daytona Beach Shores again in 2010, in 2011, and in 2011-12.

After being seen over the winter of 2011-2012 in Florida, F05 was not seen at all during the 2012 summer / breeding season on Appledore Island. He was presumed dead until this January, when Michael Brothers (the original finder in 2009) spotted F05 once more in Daytona Beach Shores. And he was still there on February 27th, when Arthur and I spotted him among the thousands of gulls on the beach that late afternoon.

Gulls at Frank Rendon Park
Find the famous one!

The gulls return to Appledore to begin breeding in May. Time will tell if F05 will join them.

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Carolina Wrens will nest anywhere

It may be the early days of spring, but breeding for Carolina Wrens here in Florida has been underway for a while already. Last year I took some photos of an active Carolina Wren nest at Gemini Springs. Ma Wren thought a utility box would be a great spot to raise chicks.

Carolina Wren nest
Carolina Wren nest in utility box; 08-APR-12

Carolina Wren nest
Carolina Wren nest in utility box; 08-APR-12

Carolina Wren chicks in nest
Carolina Wren chicks in nest; 08-APR-12

baby Carolina Wren in nest
Carolina Wren chicks in nest; 11-APR-12

The babies were gone when I checked the nest again two days later; some days later again I looked again for any signs of re-nesting but only found a lonely anole in the box. Shortly thereafter, I noted that the box was closed (as it should have been in the first place), but I bet Ma Wren had already found another spot to raise her subsequent brood.

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Golden Crested Myna biopsy

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom (AK), one of the most interesting places to visit is Rafiki’s Planet Watch — first thing in the morning. Visitors can peek into a special examination room where procedures are performed on resident animals. These are often routine health exams, as in the Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture we saw last year on International Vulture Awareness Day. The exams normally take place at 10AM; there may be additional exams later in the day.

Golden Crested Myna

On February 24th Arthur and I visited AK and watched Disney veterinary staff perform a laproscopic liver biopsy on a Golden Crested Myna. Here are some photos of the procedure.

Golden Crested Myna
The patient is brought into the exam room inside a small cloth bag

The bird was put under anesthesia and the belly area was plucked of feathers. Preparing the patient for surgery took a lot longer than the procedure itself.

Golden Crested Myna
Going under

Golden Crested Myna
The patient is in place

Golden Crested Myna
The procedure is underway

Golden Crested Myna
Sewn up

The final step was to revive the patient following the surgery.

Golden Crested Myna
Coming back

Afterwards the veterinarian spoke to our small group of observers about what he had done. The myna had recently had its routine yearly exam which included taking and analyzing fluids. The results showed that the bird may have something wrong with its liver, which is why they did the biopsy.

When you get to the park in the morning, you can stop at Guest Relations to ask what the procedures for the day will be. They examine everything from birds to bats to tigers and more. A cast member told us they are more likely to work with birds on Sundays – but really you never know until you get there!

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

A quick little post for last month’s update! March was busy and April is going to be even more so!

To the person who searched for just hatched baby kingfisher: I hope you checked Flickr? Belted Kingfishers nest in burrows so I imagine spotting chicks isn’t too easy.

To the person who searched for are long eared owls seen in chicago: I’m sure you learned the answer is YES!

To the people who searched for yellow headed vulture pet and eurasian vulture pet: NO.

To the people who searched for audubon park deltona and audibon park lush rd deltona: If you have been birding at the park, I would love to hear from you!!

To the person who searched for is a peregrine warm or cold blooded: Seriously?

To the people searching for creative commons cat catching bird and cat with dead bird: I hope you found the Keep Cats Indoors Flickr Group and/or the Cats Outdoors “what i really do” shareable graphic (shown below). (Side note: I was happy to see this image shared on Facebook quite a bit lately, possibly in reaction to the whole Ted Williams/Audubon thing).

Cats Outdoors (original)

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Birding Gemini Springs, March 2013

I submitted 15 checklists from Gemini Springs to eBird in March. Wow! I didn’t realize I visited so often… but I know April will be a super-busy month so I guess I tried to squeeze in a lot of birding before the chaos begins. 🙂 I ended up seeing 79 species (but still no Limpkin!) — see the full list at the end of this post.

New to my all-time Gemini Springs list were House Finch, Sedge Wren, and Lesser Scaup.

American Robin
American Robin | 02-MAR-13

I spent some time in the early part of the month looking for the Fox Sparrow I first spotted on February 25th. I learned from other observers that the area where the bird was hanging was a sinkhole, not a “marshy area” as I had described. Anyway, I was only able to find the Fox Sparrow one more time, on March 9th. According to eBird, our avian northern visitor was last seen by anyone on March 10th.

Birders seeking Fox Sparrow | 02-MAR-13

Fox Sparrow
My last look at the Fox Sparrow | 09-MAR-13

I found Barred Owls in a part of the park I don’t usually visit. I managed to spot a roosting owl in the same spot a few more times in the month. I’ve been looking and listening in a few spots for signs of babies, but no luck so far.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl | 05-MAR-13

Boat-tailed Grackles
Boat-tailed Grackles | 05-MAR-13

Live Oak with Spanish Moss
Live Oak with Spanish Moss | 05-MAR-13

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | 06-MAR-13

looking up
Pied-billed Grebe looking up | 06-MAR-13

Eastern Grey Squirrel
omnomnom | 06-MAR-13

Nine-banded Armadillo
Nine-banded Armadillo | 11-MAR-13

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal | 12-MAR-13

I saw the Bald Eagle pair off their nest quite a lot, and I saw juvenile birds soaring over Gemini Springs a few times this month. I hope this means the eagles have successfully raised a chick or two or three to fledge. I am kind of frustrated that I have not been able to find their nest. Keeping in mind that males are smaller than females, can you tell who is who in the photo below?

Bald Eagle pair
Bald Eagles at dusk | 12-MAR-13

sunset | 12-MAR-13

grasshopper sp | 13-MAR-13

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule in the fog | 15-MAR-13

Anhinga preening | 15-MAR-13

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | 15-MAR-13

Gemini Springs
Gemini Springs | 15-MAR-13

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird | 15-MAR-13

Black Vulture
Black Vulture on the fishing pier | 18-MAR-13

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow in the sinkhole | 18-MAR-13

Blue Jay
Blue Jay gathering nesting material | 26-MAR-13

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk | 26-MAR-13

I had two surprises towards the end of the month. I found a Black-crowned Night-Heron standing across from the fishing pier on March 26th, my second ever at Gemini Springs. The next day I found a totally unexpected Lesser Scaup swimming on the spring side of the dam, my first ever at the park.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron | 26-MAR-13

Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup | 27-MAR-13

rodent ?
rodent, species unknown | 27-MAR-13

Thanks for checking out this post! If you are a fan of Gemini Springs, please become a Fan of Gemini Springs on Facebook!

Gemini Springs logo
Gemini Springs logo

Gemini Springs, March 2013 month bird list
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) – Cairina moschata (Domestic type)
Blue-winged Teal – Anas discors
Lesser Scaup – Aythya affinis
Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
Wood Stork – Mycteria americana
Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus
Anhinga – Anhinga anhinga
American Bittern – Botaurus lentiginosus
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
Black-crowned Night-Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax
White Ibis – Eudocimus albus
Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
Black Vulture – Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura
Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
Swallow-tailed Kite – Elanoides forficatus
Northern Harrier – Circus cyaneus
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
Sandhill Crane – Grus canadensis
Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Black-necked Stilt – Himantopus mexicanus
Ring-billed Gull – Larus delawarensis
Caspian Tern – Hydroprogne caspia
Forster’s Tern – Sterna forsteri
Mourning Dove – Zenaida macroura
Barred Owl – Strix varia
Belted Kingfisher – Megaceryle alcyon
Red-headed Woodpecker – Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sphyrapicus varius
Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens
Pileated Woodpecker – Dryocopus pileatus
Eastern Phoebe – Sayornis phoebe
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
Sedge Wren – Cistothorus platensis
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
Cedar Waxwing – Bombycilla cedrorum
Black-and-white Warbler – Mniotilta varia
Orange-crowned Warbler – Oreothlypis celata
Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas
Northern Parula – Setophaga americana
Palm Warbler – Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler – Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler – Setophaga coronata
Yellow-throated Warbler – Setophaga dominica
Chipping Sparrow – Spizella passerina
Fox Sparrow – Passerella iliaca
Swamp Sparrow – Melospiza georgiana
Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle – Quiscalus quiscula
Boat-tailed Grackle – Quiscalus major
House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus
American Goldfinch – Spinus tristis

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