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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Clutzy egret loses lunch

It’s cold here in central Florida! Relatively speaking. We should hit record low temperatures in the area tonight, when the thermometer dips below 40F. Brr!

Snowy Egret

On a chilly walk at Gemini Springs this morning, I watched a Snowy Egret working on a fish. The bird already had lunch in its beak when I first saw it, but it let the fish slip away. I slowed down the initial chase at the end of the clip — you can see the fish make its escape!

I watched the egret a bit longer but lunch was not recaptured before I had to move on.

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Raptor nest drama

Osprey nests are very common here in central Florida, especially on utility structures. I wanted to monitor a nest or two for the citizen science project Osprey Watch this year, so when I noticed Ospreys visiting an existing nest that I pass by on my bike a few times a week, I took note. Unfortunately the sun is always behind this site from the bike path, so photos are usually lousy.

Adult(s) visit nest site early in the season, 29 January 2013

In the following weeks I saw adult birds bringing material to the nest, or visiting the nest or structure, but I didn’t really stop to watch them as it didn’t appear that anyone was sitting on eggs yet.

Then sometime last month I noticed a Red-tailed Hawk perched on the utility structure, not far from the nest. I wondered if the Ospreys had abandoned the nest site. Unfortunately I didn’t document this sighting or any that followed, being distracted with a pending house move among other things.

Finally on March 9th, at the end of a late afternoon ride, I stopped to look at the site again. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk that appeared to be sitting inside the nest.

Red-tailed Hawk on Osprey nest
Red-tailed Hawk on Osprey nest, 9 March 2013

This morning there was a bit of raptor drama at the nest site and nearby. First, as I approached the utility lines I was thrilled to see a pair of Bald Eagles fly over the road in front of me. They flew at a leisurely pace, but were soon followed by a Red-shouldered Hawk who was screaming bloody murder. The eagles continued on their way, but not before showing some aggression towards each other with some flipped-over talon waving.

As I biked by the Osprey nest, less than a block away, I heard a Red-tailed Hawk keering. I stopped to look at the nest and saw a hawk perched on the structure, and an Osprey approaching the nest. Wow! I guess the Ospreys didn’t give up after all? The hawk took flight and then suddenly a second Red-tailed Hawk came out of the woods and gave the Osprey chase! The Osprey banked and went after one of the flying hawks. The raptors chased each other around for about 45 seconds before the Osprey and one of the hawks disappeared over the woods and out of my view. The other Red-tailed Hawk returned to the structure.

Red-tailed Hawk at Osprey nest
Red-tailed Hawk at Osprey nest, 18 March 2013

Both species would be expected to be deep into breeding season now, and either could already be sitting on eggs, so I really wonder what is going on at this nest site. I also think it is a bit unusual for a Red-tailed Hawk to nest in such an open area, in a nest not self-made.

Red-tailed Hawk by Osprey nest
Red-tailed Hawk at Osprey nest, 18 March 2013

I love all the raptors I get to see here on a regular basis. In fact, the above encounters were not even the best raptor sightings I had this morning! How’s that for a teaser for a future blog post?! Anyway, if you love raptors too, you should be following the Crossley ID Blog Tour, a celebration of raptors. The blog tour is for the upcoming publication of The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors. Be sure to check out the post this Wednesday on sister blog!

Crossley ID Guide Blog Tour

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Chilly Cooper’s Hawk noms

My parents had a back yard treat last month — a Cooper’s Hawk having lunch in the snow.

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk with prey, 27-FEB-13 | Chicago area, IL | photo by Mary Evenstad

Look at how the Mourning Doves on the left side of the below photo aren’t bothered at all (actually I would guess they are totally oblivious) as the Cooper’s Hawk eats away on the other side of the yard.

Cooper's Hawk and Morning Doves have lunch
Cooper’s Hawk and Mourning Doves, 27-FEB-13 | Chicago area, IL | photo by Mary Evenstad

I think the prey item is a Hairy or Downy Woodpecker based on the striping on the plucked feathers. It’s not a Mourning Dove… maybe that’s why the other doves didn’t head for the hills? Here’s a short video of the Cooper’s Hawk with its lunch.

Cooper’s Hawk with lunch, 27-FEB-13 | Chicago area, IL | video by Mary Evenstad

Thanks, Mom!!

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Halfway B-A-D

Today is the 72nd day of the year. Last year I made it through 144 days in the Bird-a-Day Challenge, so I’m just shy of halfway to making my goal (to beat last year’s total). The halfway point seems like a good time for me to share some more awful photos and a little progress update.

As in my last update, 10 birds of the most recent bunch came from Gemini Springs: Blue-winged Teal; Fox Sparrow; Tree Swallow; Pine Warbler; Glossy Ibis; Northern Harrier; Bald Eagle; Marsh Wren; White-eyed Vireo; and today’s Double-crested Cormorant.

Northern Harrier
06-MAR: Northern Harrier showing white rump very nicely! | Gemini Springs, Volusia Co. FL

Two birds were found at Epcot: Ring-billed Gull and Green Heron. Two birds came from Trout Lake, a rather dry wetland along I4 in Orange City: Wood Stork and Least Sandpiper.

I only went to the coast with Arthur twice in this last bunch, where I used Dunlin on February 20th, and a famous Lesser Black-backed Gull on February 27th (more on this bird in a future post).

Lesser Black-backed Gull
27-FEB: Lesser Black-backed Gull | Frank Rendon Park, Daytona Beach Shores, Volusia Co. FL

On a really nice six-mile walk at Lake Woodruff NWR on March 10th I used one of the first birds I saw as I began my walk: Sedge Wren.

Sedge Wren
10-MAR: Sedge Wren | Lake Woodruff NWR, Volusia Co. FL

I only used one yard bird: Common Grackle; the rest of the birds came from various locations during routine errands or making stops between errands or other outings. In this way I used a surprise inland Brown Pelican on a volunteer day at Audubon Center for Birds of Prey; a Cattle Egret between house viewings in DeBary; one of the many abundant Savannah Sparrows at Audubon Park during a pit stop on the way home on February 28th; and a Bonaparte’s Gull at Merritt Island NWR before viewing the SpaceX launch from nearby Playalinda Beach.

Bonaparte's Gull
01-MAR: Bonaparte’s Gull | Peacock’s Pocket, Merritt Island NWR, Brevard Co. FL

The next couple of weeks should be fine, but I’m expecting some major (but very welcome! and very good!) disruptions to my normal routine coming up in April, including some highly anticipated visits from a good friend and my in-laws. Eek! For now though, I’m halfway there! Onward to the next 72!

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A few weeks ago I took a short walk on the beach at Daytona Beach Shores. I noticed some gulls scrambling over pieces of fish, maybe scraps left behind by anglers who were done fishing for the day.

Great Black-backed Gull with fish scraps


Gulls fighting over fish scraps

Great Black-backed Gull with fish scraps

Great Black-backed Gull with fish scraps

Great Black-backed Gull with fish scraps

Great Black-backed Gull with fishing line

Isn’t that last picture cute? I thought I was capturing a whimsical photo of an “unlikely friendship” but I didn’t notice until looking at the photos later at home that the gull has fishing line trailing from it. You can click on the photo to view it larger on I feel terrible I didn’t notice it at the time, though if the bird was flighted I don’t think I could have done anything. Fish scraps aren’t the only things left behind by fisherfolk. Please please please pick up and properly discard loose fishing line whenever and wherever you see it.

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The Tower Ravens

Ravens at the Tower of London

I can’t believe it’s been so long but this past January marked 10 years since my visit to see the Tower of London and the famous ravens that live there. Arthur and I visited London several times during our years in Europe, but we only went to the Tower once. Here are some photos from our trip to the famous monument and its well-known residents.

Ravens at the Tower of London

Ravens at the Tower of London

Ravens at the Tower of London

Raven at the Tower of London

Ravens smooching at the Tower of London

Ravens at the Tower of London

Raven Memorial at the Tower of London

The reason for my nostalgia is that I recently had the pleasure to read Boria Sax’s book about the birds: City of Ravens. Skip on over to to read my 3.5-star review of City of Ravens.

Tower of London

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