26 de enero de 2021

Backyard Birds

I feel like such an amateur birder. I know that I certainly am one, but I wish it didn't feel so... evident. A short time ago, I began feeling more confident recognizing bird species that had been new to me not-so-long before. I was consistently spotting egrets, pelicans, and terns which was exciting, but I was hoping to expand my birding to new orders and families, particularly passerines.

On a sudden whim, I bought a sturdy bird bath and a solar-powered fountain to set up in my backyard. I was sure to keep the water clean and fresh, but to my dismay I discovered no new visitors. Even weeks after its installation, I've only noticed a couple instances of a mockingbird sitting at the bath briefly. Better than nothing, I suppose, but I was disheartened that the other birds I'd seen near the house (warblers, mourning doves, mockingbirds, humming birds, etc.) hadn't been enticed by my attempt to make my backyard more bird friendly.

My conclusion was that it's not bird friendly enough. So I looked on Etsy and got myself a bird feeder cage and home-made suet cake. I'm rethinking the decision for suet over seeds (I'm living in the heat of Florida, after all), but the photos of woodpeckers eating suet was appealing to me in the moment. I finally got it hung up on the eaves of the roof, and I waiting a few days for the birds to find its location, but in vain. I admitted to myself that even though it was an ideal spot for me to see out my window, it wasn't the best place for the birds seeking food. So I purchased a shepherd's hook and re-located the feeder near the mangroves separating the yard from the canal. I constantly hear birds within that vegetation, so I figured I'd see birds within maybe a week. I was wrong again, and my excitement deflated.

In a not-too-optimistic act, I saved the seeds from a butternut squash I had cooked for a soup. I looked up if they were safe for birds, and found out that mockingbirds, blue-jays, and cardinals can indeed eat squash seeds. I put them out by the mangroves on a plate and played the waiting game yet again. It took a couple days, but I finally spotted a northern cardinal pecking at my seeds! He was even there the next day as well. Of course, my camera was acting up and not performing at its usual quality, but I finally had some satisfaction that my efforts yielded a visit from my intended guests.

Perhaps this is a sign to get a new type of bird feeder?

Publicado el enero 26, 2021 11:01 TARDE por gemela-dos gemela-dos | 1 observación | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de noviembre de 2020

Night Heron

For weeks now, I've come to enjoy a regular sighting of a particular bird near my dock; a yellow-crowned night heron. I was so excited the first time I saw one, because it was so different from the usual sightings at my dock of snowy egrets, great egrets, and little blue herons. And once I saw it a couple more times, I was thrilled to assume that he had made himself home in the mangroves nearby. He gives me a wary look, but he'll usually seem to not mind me on the dock as he rests in his usual spot. I take photos of him from time to time, since he is a beautiful bird, even though I don't post them anymore on iNat.

My partner had said to me he thought he saw the heron was missing a leg! I assured him that the bird was probably just resting on one leg. Sure enough, next time I saw him he just tucked a leg underneath his belly. Then my partner said he saw the bird limping! I admit, I really didn't believe my partner this time, seeing as how silly the last observation seemed. But a week or so later, I watched the poor heron limp across the boat lift. I had my camera in hand and snapped a couple photos of him. When I zoomed in on the pictures, I was appalled to find that there was fishing line wrapped tightly around his foot, preventing him from separating his toes fully. I felt so sorry for the guy, but I didn't know what I could do for it.

I Google searched for bird rehabs nearby, and was able to get in contact with one willing to send out a rescuer to try to catch the bird so they could treat it. I knew it would be tricky, since the heron could still fly, but tried to stay hopeful. The rescuer was very willing to try, even though the heron was a little reach from the dock, but I was disappointed by the way he lumbered toward the bird and quickly scared it off. He told me it's hard to catch them when they're still that active, and asked me to try to watch its behavior to see when it seemed "more depressed". If it starts losing the ability to hunt, or if it gets an infection, it'll have reduced energy and won't be so quick to fly away.

I wasn't thrilled with the outlook of just waiting for it to be "depressed", so I emailed the person I had initially spoken to at the organization. She gave me this recommendation: "Keep a towel down on your dock, so he gets used to the sight of it. Then if you have the opportunity, drop the towel over him. As soon as a bird's head is covered they basically freeze. That will give you time to scoop him up and put him in a box and call us! You might be our best bet since you're there all the time and he is used to you. Birds are very quick to notice anything outside the ordinary, and night herons are especially wary."

I feel a little better now that there's a little more I can do to work toward helping this bird, but I know it won't be easy. I have to admit, I laughed at the idea of throwing a towel over a heron and putting it in a box! But I'm hoping I can follow through for its sake.

Publicado el noviembre 21, 2020 03:03 MAÑANA por gemela-dos gemela-dos | 1 observación | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de noviembre de 2020

Off shore

When I woke up this morning, I walked out to my dock in the backyard and was surprised to see the tide was the lowest I'd ever seen (since I moved here in June) and a lot of mud was exposed. I was hoping to see crabs, but could not see any (I've only gotten to photograph mangrove tree crabs). It wasn't until early afternoon I was able to get out of the house, but I took my bike to Indian Beach Park with camera and binoculars in tow. When I saw the two raptors (perhaps vultures?) overhead on my way there, I had a good feeling I'd have some good luck finding some interesting wildlife.

I've come to bird-watch at the park a few times before, but this time I wore my water shoes. Wading out into the shallow water, I kept my eyes peeled to the water in front of me and I was rewarded with the presence of multiple hermit crabs! I'm pretty sure I saw other crabs as well, but they were too quick for me to focus on. I was very surprised though, to come across a whopping hermit crab who had found a home in a conch shell! I'm not familiar with the diet of these creatures, but I was scared for a smaller, nearby hermit crab, who the big one scuttled over. Luckily, the little guy was still there (alive and well) when the large one crawled away.

After the excitement of the crabs, I kept wading parallel to shore, and was thrilled to find a group of birds I had never seen before. Most of the bird here are recently new to me, having moved here from the New England area, but I've almost become jaded by the amount of brown pelicans, snowy egrets and great egrets I see on a daily basis. But these new birds had long, upward curved bills I'd not yet seen on a bird before. The sun was behind them, so I was trying to get the best shots I good with unfortunate lighting, but they flew off before I even thought I was close enough to scare them. But today is my lucky day because they landed back in the water back behind me with better lighting (score!).

And to make it even better, I saw a lone bird at the shore I also didn't recognize, and was able to get some photos of (even if I couldn't get close enough for a crisp shot). At first glance, I thought it to be a sand piper, but after posting on iNat, was corrected and learned it was a Killdeer, a type of plover. I had never even heard of a plover until a few months ago, but I'm learning as I go, and I love the help I've been getting from this online community.

Publicado el noviembre 3, 2020 02:48 MAÑANA por gemela-dos gemela-dos | 3 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario