The Painted Bunting is one of the most beautiful of our North American land birds. The female is a splendid green, matched only by some parrots and the Green Jay– except for splashes of green on some other birds, such as ducks, I can’t think of any others so colored. The male is ‘painted” surrealistically in bright red, blue and green. It was one of Mary Lou’s most sought-after birds. She finally got a brief look at one in Corkscrew Swamp this year.
This past Tuesday, we took a break from watching our local Bald Eagle nest (where the area around the nest has finally been temporarily fenced and posted) and spent all day birding wetlands in western Palm County. We had four “target” birds that we had seen previously, but really wanted to get better looks and perhaps photograph them: Snail Kite, Limpkin, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and Painted Bunting.
We started at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, worked our way west to the nearby Wakodahatchee Wetlands, in Delray Beach, and thence to Green Cay Nature Center in Boynton Beach. After checking in at a nearby motel, we had a very nice dinner with one of my old friends and his wife who were visiting Florida from their home in New York. He was my classmate all the way from Kindergarten through High School in Rutherford, New Jersey.
The next morning, before heading home we went on to Okeeheelee Nature Center in West Palm Beach. We dipped on the Snail Kite at Loxahatchee, which is usually the best place to find one. One had been roosting near the Visitor Center just the day before, but they are said to be easier to find when they begin nesting in a month or so.
However, this Great Egret at Loxahatchee, in breeding condition, displayed marvelous plumes and a green mask (click on all images to choose larger views):
Wakodahatchee yielded great views of the whistling-ducks:
The Limpkin, named for its “limping” walk, is a much sought-after southeastern US specialty bird. We found a very obliging Limpkin at Wakodahatchee:
While not rare, Limpkins are notoriously hard to find. Our previous sightings of Limpkins were always transitory, as the birds have a habit of dissolving into the reeds a few seconds after being seen. This one scratched its chin nonchalantly:
Another view shows a more distinct eye ring on his right side: