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05/20/08
Mockingbirds and Muscovies
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US
Posted by: Ken @ 8:55 am

We arrived home from Illinois to Florida to find that Northern Mockingbirds were rearing three chicks in an ornamental planting just outside our front porch and next to our garage door.

This is the third year that the birds have built a nest in almost the same spot (the small opening at about 9 o’clock in the upper globe of the topiary, with a bit of straw protruding. It wisely faces to the north):

When I pointed the camera her way, the parent immediately swallowed a large dragonfly that it was bringing to the nestlings. Perhaps this is an evasive maneuver to draw attention away from the fact that a nest is nearby.

These views of two of the chicks were about the best I could manage, as I did not disturb the foliage around the nest and did not want to keep the parents away for very long (click on thumbnails for larger images):

Heat and lots of smoke from the fires in the Everglades have kept us pretty much inside and breathing conditioned air. Our lake is almost 4 feet below the high water mark. Itching to try out my new 300 mm image-stabilized lens, I have found only a few subjects.

Except for a wary Green Heron, long-legged waders have abandoned our lake. The Least Terns are fishing actively and appear to be carrying their catch to nesting sites, perhaps on the roof of of a nearby strip mall. So far, my attempts to catch them in flight have captured only pictures of a smoky blue sky.

Following the massive die-off and two years of almost no reproduction, the local Muscovy Ducks on our lake are again hatching out young. There are three active broods of 10-12 ducklings each.

Mama duck leads her ducklings out of the lake. Image stabilization has taken the shake out of my hands!

This shot, taken with auto focus at about 30 feet from the group of ducklings, shows the depth of field to be quite limited. Only the center-most duckling is in sharp focus. My manually focused shots of these moving subjects were all out of focus (lack of skill or bad eyes?):


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