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09/12/11
Florida Yard Birds
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 8:39 pm

Returning from Illinois this past Thursday, our aircraft passed eastward over the Fort Lauderdale airport and took a long downwind leg over the ocean. This meant that the wind was blowing in from the Everglades, and we could expect rising temperatures and a plague of mosquitoes until the easterly sea breezes returned.

The unsettled air produced a lovely sunrise, but bad as the mosquitoes, heat and humidity have been, other concerns are keeping us from going afield:

Sunrise2-20110910

When we opened our front door upon arriving from the airport, we were greeted with the stench of rotting fish. At some time early in our 6 weeks of visiting Illinois and cruising the western Mediterranean, my 55 gallon glass aquarium had developed a pinhole leak about halfway up. A corresponding amount of water (along with an additional 8 gallons in a reserve tank that maintains the water level when we are away) had flowed to the floor. The filtration system became inoperative, and the water turned stagnant. All five of my big Koi died from oxygen deprivation. They were in advanced stages of decomposition. Not a nice welcome!

I quickly disposed of the dead bodies, but it was too late in the day to do much more. Luckily, our floor is travertine marble, and the aquarium is located next to a sliding glass door, so the water mostly flowed directly outside under the metal door frame. The cabinet under the tank was badly stained, and I have spent much of past three days cleaning and repairing the tank, and refinishing the cabinet.

Six weeks ago, just before we departed for Illinois, we had an interesting visitor on our back patio. It was an adult Wood Stork, the first we had seen this summer. The storks have had two consecutive unsuccessful breeding seasons in the southern Everglades. Water levels must be nearly perfect before they will begin nesting. Water must be deep enough to protect them from terrestrial predators. Yet, since the storks are tactile feeders, the water must be shallow enough to concentrate their own prey. Water deeper than about a foot causes them to abandon their nest area to forage far and wide, and there is danger that their unprotected young may starve or be killed. Most summers, we have had family groups of adult and immature storks.   

I took this photo through the open patio door:

Wood Stork on patio 2-20110731

The stork was unusually tame, and it walked right up to our patio window. Though it appeared otherwise healthy, we were concerned that it might be ill or impaired:

Wood Stork on patio 20110731

This afternoon I looked out the back window and found a Great Blue Heron resting on our patio wall. It was standing in full sun and the heat-stressed bird exhibited intense gular flutter (rapid pulsation of the throat, a cooling measure). I could not fit the entire bird in my telephoto lens, as it was only 20 feet from the window, so I had to use my point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot A 1100 IS for full-body shots.

Great Blue Heron Wall 20110912

I backed away from the window and got head and neck images with
the 420mm lens system. Taken through the window glass, both shots are a bit soft

Great Blue Heron CLOSE

We do not put out feeders, as the Muscovy Ducks and Rock Pigeons overwhelm them. Our lake itself is a big “bird feeder,” and so are our patio, lawn and trees. When we can’t get out, we wait for the birds to visit us.

Blue Jays nest in our back yard mahogany tree:

Blue Jay 20110131

A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron forages on our lawn for insects, earthworms and lizards:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in yard 2-20110604

Killdeers probe the water’s edge:

Killdeer in Back Yard 20090412

A Little Blue Heron chases after lizards and geckos on our patio:

Patio19SEP06LittleBlueHeron

Cattle Egrets generally stay away from the water, but sometimes stop by:

Cattle Egret Aloe 0081108

A stealthy Green Heron sits in a  flower pot:

Green Heron 20081017

The heron,alarmed by my presence, raises its shaggy crown:

Green Heron 2-20100206

A single dead fish may attract several Turkey Vultures:

Turkey Vulture 2-20101114

Turkey Vulture 20101114

Ospreys fly overhead:

Osprey 2-20101114

A Double-crested Cormorant rests on a decoy that serves as a float for a lawn irrigation intake. The goose’s sculpted plumage mimics that of it passenger :

Cormorant on decoy 20101115

Soon, Palm Warblers will return for the winter::

PalmWarbler20090129

This Loggerhead Shrike is hunting for anoles in the impatiens:

Loggerhead Shrike 2-20101231

A Muscovy Duck walks her brood across our patio:

New Brood 2008_07_16

This Green Iguana enjoys munching on our flowers:

Iguana 20070123

7 Responses to “Florida Yard Birds”

  1. Boom & Gary Says:
    Great captures!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  2. Kat Says:
    This is my first visit here via World Bird Wednesday. I feel like I have just taken a trip to an aviary! It is amazing to see who visits your back patio. I enjoyed all your photos immensely! Kat http://inmydreamssfk.blogspot.com/
  3. Mick Says:
    Oh dear! Not a nice sight and smell to come home to! That’s a great series of bird photos. It looks like you have a very interesting lot of bird visitors.
  4. holdingmoments Says:
    A bird paradise where you live Ken. Just a little envious lol Great shots you’ve captured there.
  5. Pat Says:
    These are wonderful photos! You have so many types of fantastic wildlife near your home. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of the Koi.
  6. springman Says:
    Now that is one outstanding backyard menagerie, plain and simple. Sorry to hear about your fish tank calamity Ken. That had to be one interesting aquarium system to self-maintain for all those weeks. I think the sun must be different in Florida, your pictures have gorgeous color. I would not mind having a stork in my yard either. Great post!
  7. Jean Says:
    Whoa! I am amazed at your Yard Birds! Sad about your Koi.:( Thanks for posting on WBW!!!

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