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01/22/12
Birds and berries
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 1:31 pm

Mary Lou’s favorite local bird is the Painted Bunting, but the Elegant Trogon goes down as her “anywhere” favorite. (Read here how the trogon was responsible for Mary Lou’s “conversion.”) Both share bright green and red feathers, though the Painted Bunting adds a generous dose of brilliant blue. My favorite? It’s hard to say, as the Rose-breasted Grosbeak was probably my “epiphany” bird. As a kid I will not forget watching a male displaying to a female on the ground, walking around with his red chest all puffed up and singing brilliantly. However, Painted Buntings are one of my favorites, with a caveat– I really like seeing them in the wild rather than at feeders.

Painted Buntings winter here, and I have gotten plenty of shots of males at Okeeheelee Park, in western Palm County. On the feeder…

Painted Bunting 20090225

…and picking up scraps under the feeder.

Painted Bunting Male 20090225

The feeders at Corkscrew Swamp are also reliable places to find Painted Buntings.

Painted Bunting 20110313

In the field, male Painted Buntings seem to be quite reclusive. Perhaps they lurk in the shrubs to hide their bold coloring. Female and immature buntings, while beautiful in their own right, have been much more cooperative subjects.

Painted Bunting female 2-20111023

Painted Bunting female (Passerina ciris) 2-20111012

In South Florida, we have a natural bird feeder. The Trema is a fruiting tree that is very valuable to wildlife. It sets fruit almost continuously during the winter, and its berries are in various stages of ripening. Individual trees seem to become more attractive to birds at different times. The favored tree changes from one week to the next.

The Tremas in this cluster along the gravel road that leads into the wetlands are the size of shrubs.

Trema tree cluster 20120118

Trema berries form along the stems, and birds usually eat the red ones, though I have seen many take green berries as well.

Trema berries 20120118

Palm Warblers are numerous all winter, and they congregate in the Trema trees, probably more interested in gleaning insects that are attracted to the fruits.

Palm Warbler 20120118

Yellow-rumped Warblers do relish the Trema berries.

Yellow-rumped Warbler 20120118

This week, one particular tree fruited optimally. Catbirds and mockingbirds flocked to it, but among its visitors was a White-eyed Vireo that ate some of the berries.

White-eyed Vireo 20120118

Mary Lou and I were delighted when a male Painted Bunting flew in to join the feast.

Painted Bunting 4-20120118

The exotic and invasive Brazilian Pepper was imported as an ornamental plant and has spread all over South Florida. Although despised because it displaces much of the native flora, it too provides food throughout the winter. Raccoons seem to prefer it, judging by the copious amount of seeds in their scat.

Prairie Warblers have been scarce this winter, and I was pleased to find this female catching insects amid the pepper berries.

Prairie Warbler 20120120

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was chasing small flying insects against a backdrop of clusters of Brazilian Pepper.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4-20120120

It took flight and I captured this image quite by accident.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3-20120120

The lake was as smooth as glass in the stillness of early morning. Along the shore, a Wood Stork cast its reflection.

Wood Stork reflection 20120118

A sun-bathing Anhinga was mirrored on the lake’s surface.

Cormorant reflection20120118

In the still-flooded grassland around the lake, a White Ibis had caught a crayfish, and was running away from a group of immature ibises that tried to steal its prize.

White Ibis with crayfish 20120120

A white heron landed in a nearby tree, and I almost dismissed it as just another egret, when I noticed the color of its bill– bluish with a dark tip, and its green legs. It was an immature Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron immature 20120120

Walking back home, this American Kestrel watched me from atop the central shoot of a Royal Palm.

American Kestrel 20120120

Click here for a searchable index of earlier ROSYFINCH RAMBLINGS posts.

13 Responses to “Birds and berries”

  1. Richard Says:
    Beautiful as always, Ken: thank you. Helps me deal with my homesickness for Florida (grew up in Broward County, moved to northern Virginia a year ago from Brevard County, home to make it back)
  2. eileen Says:
    Wow, your Painted Bunting is just gorgeous. They are beautiful birds. Wonderful shots of all the birds, you are a great photographer.
  3. Dawn Fine Says:
    Gorgeous photos!
  4. Mick Says:
    All great photos but the sun-bathing Anhinga is very special. The Painted Buntings are absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed going back and reading about Mary Lou’s “conversion” to birding. A perfect birding moment!
  5. Liz Says:
    WOW! What an awesome series! I was glad to stumble onto your blog via WBW. The Buntings are beautifully coloured (even the females). The female is almost camoflagued in that tree. Great bird photography!!
  6. John Says:
    The best series yet on WBW. Those Painted Buntings are unreal. I would love to see one some day. Great clarity in your photos. The “accident” inflight shot is great. Well done all.
  7. heyBJK Says:
    I’ve never seen a Painted Bunting except in photos and yours are beautiful! That Gnatcatcher shot in flight is fantastic, Ken! As is the reflection photo.
  8. joo Says:
    This Painted Bunting is simply awesome!
  9. Sallie (FullTime-Life) Says:
    Those are just gorgeous birds — we’re in Florida too now, but the only painted buntings I’ve ever seen were in Texas (in Port Aransas, when we spent a season there). thank you for sharing — I hope some of your birding luck rubs off on me!@
  10. springman Says:
    Amazing 19 course meal Ken. I fasten my seat belt when I open up your blog because I know I’m in for a wild ride. This time I could have used a four point harness. I just knew by your set up you were going to have a Painted bunting “in the wild.” What a perfect shot it is. Gnat-catcher in flight is a prize too. Ibis w/ crayfish…Stork….cormorant….All excellent! Incredible sights. I simply must get to Florida before the season ends. Bravo!!!
  11. Pat Says:
    The Painted Buntings are gorgeous! The Anhinga photo is spectacular!
  12. Larry Jordan Says:
    Awesome photos as always Ken! The Painted Bunting is so colorful, I would love to see this bird one day. The White Ibis with the crayfish and the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher are fabulous but the White-eyed Vireo is stunning!
  13. Ken Says:
    Thank you, all, for your kind comments!

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