Thanks to Southwest Airlines, we left the snow and cold of northern Illinois, and the next morning Mary Lou and I took in a tranquil sunrise as we enjoyed coffee on the patio:
Although I miss the mountain vistas of our former home in New Mexico, life on a South Florida lake has some advantages. In addition to (usually) mild winters, there are quite a few interesting and beautiful birds that often share our yard.
In the evening, a Greater Yellowlegs shows up at the margin of the lake:
Nearby, a Killdeer loafs:
Always looking agitated and impatient, a Tricolored Heron fishes at the edge of our lawn:
A Great Egret zeroes in on a little fish; less than one second after I took this photo, the fish was in the bird’s gullet (click on photo for a 5 frames per second sequence):
The first active Bald Eagle nest in Broward County since DDT was abolished in the 1970s is located near our home. While we were in Illinois, rosyfinch.com hosted a nationwide “Name the Eagle Triplets” poll on behalf of local Middle School science students. As a class project in learning to apply the Scientific Method, the seventh graders studied the relationship between the density of traffic on the nearby highway and the behavior of the eagles at the nest site. Nearly 300 votes were cast, from 34 states. For details see: http://rosyfinch.com/PollPage.html
On March 29, there were heavy thunderstorms and high winds, so I feared for the safety of the three Bald Eagle chicks in the nest. With other volunteer observers, I watched the nest for about a half hour, but could only see two eaglets. We were concerned that one might have fallen out of the nest during the storms.
Then, the female parent brought in a Cattle Egret, and the largest and most dominant eaglet appeared to eat it, undisturbed by the other large sibling, to the left in the following photo. Suddenly the smallest one’s head became just visible, to the right.
The second-hatched seemed to have grown more quickly than the first, so the middle one (in possession of the prey) may be “Chance,” with the eldest, “Lucky” to the left, and the youngest, “Courage” to the right:
The chicks, now 10 weeks old, had lunged at the prey as the parent delivered it, driving her off the nest immediately. She flew to a nearby snag to clean her bill and preen her ruffled feathers:
It was a real joy to get out early and walk our local birding patch, where this Little Blue Heron sent ripples across the still water of the lake:
A male Red-winged Blackbird has staked out a nesting territory, and awaits the arrival of the several females whom he will entice to join his harem:
This (Western) Palm Warbler has changed into brighter breeding plumage, and will soon migrate north:
A female Mottled Duck, whose orange bill differs from the bright yellow one of her mate, is frozen in flight:
Glaring at me through the brown stalks of last year’s grasses, a Green Heron protests my intrusion:
A male Common Yellowthroat chides me (click on photo for additional views):
A male Northern Cardinal sings from the top of a small tree:
An owl-faced Northern Harrier flies low over the wetlands (click on photo for more views):
April 4th, 2010 at 9:33 am Great series of photos, Ken, and a wonderful parade of birds. You clearly illustrate how the Yellowlegs got its name, and the tongue on that green heron - wow! Good news about the eaglets, though it’s a bit mind-boggling to picture a bird as large as a cattle egret at the bottom of the food chain.
April 4th, 2010 at 10:21 am Awesome shots! The Eagle chicks are awesome.
April 4th, 2010 at 10:22 am I’d like to have a Yellowlegs (big or small) on my garden list. A great selection of pictures Ken
April 4th, 2010 at 11:25 am Great bird photos on your blog. Isn’t it nice to live where there is such a variety or birds? It’s one of the things I enjoy about our current home in Northern California.
April 4th, 2010 at 2:57 pm Great photos of a very interesting variety of birds. I would love to see the Greater Yellowlegs. Do they spend the summer around there or just the winter?
April 4th, 2010 at 2:58 pm So many nice photos of diffrent birds, MB
April 4th, 2010 at 11:31 pm Welcome back to Florida Ken. Excellent photos as always. Those eagle chicks are huge! I would have been surprised at one falling or being tossed out of the nest at that age, wouldn’t you? That is a great shot of the Northern Harrier but my favorite is the Mottled Duck in flight. Gorgeous!
April 5th, 2010 at 12:04 am It’s wonderful to have all these birds in your yard. the photos are just great..I like the Palm Warbler the best. :)
April 5th, 2010 at 2:45 pm Thanks, all! Larry– Yes, there is risk of a pre-fledging departure, even if only one eaglet is in the nest. They really take chances as they jump and climb on branches. The parents cannot fly down into thick brush because of their long wings, so the chick must make it back up into the nest on its own or perish. Even after they fledge they have to return to the nest for feedings. Believe it or not, the next day I got an even nicer shot of a pair of Mottled Ducks as they flew in towards me and began to drop for a landing on the lake. I posted it in today’s blog.