Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mute Swans Growing Fast

Been a while since I have seen the Mute Swans out on the lakes. I was beginning to think they had left us. I finally spotted them the other day but they were deep in the reeds. Today, as I was headed to the store, I drove by the far side of the lake and found them all under the shade resting and preening.

Mute Swans

I only counted five babies which means another was lost since I last counted. These remaining birds are getting pretty big and pretty quickly. I didn't want to bother them so I shot these photos from the car.

Mute Swans

If they ever get back out in the open I will stop for better pictures.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tangled Anhinga

So, a friend of mine, Marcus, calls me and is really concerned about an Anhinga that had some type of material wrapped around its bill and could not feed. Wondering if I could do anything about. Maybe we could catch it somehow and since I have nets for catching birds...

However, the mist nets I used to capture small birds at the banding site do not fare well against larger birds, such as Anhinga. Larger birds have a track record of ripping straight through them. That won't work. I decided to at least head down to Mead Garden and check the situation for myself. The first bird I actually saw was a Great Blue Heron hanging out in the creek.

Great Blue Heron

I found Marcus and he told me the bird was just being harassed by a young hawk. It flew over to another perch not far from us so I observed and took a bunch of photos. It spent a lot of time rubbing the bill along the side of the tree trunk in attempts to free itself.


Not long afterwards, it decided a nap would be a good idea and we wandered around a little. It was way too high to even consider capture.


Another friend of Marcus showed up with a blanket. Soon, the Anhinga flew up the stream and we tracked it down. Marcus did have a net and he brought it down and we spent the 30 minutes trying to nab the darter as it swam up and down the waterway. I managed to get to net to touch it but it was too fast and eventually made it back to the pond and flew up into another tree. We gave up as to not stress the bird any further.

When I got home I looked at my photos and found some encouraging shots. The yarn was working its way loose some. I could see the gap it had created so it was getting close to being rid of it. Unless it was stuck on its tongue somehow.


Otherwise, this male in breeding plumage, seemed pretty healthy. It could fly and swim, and did not look thin. It could open its bill some and might be able to grab onto some smaller food and definitely could get water.


Told Marcus to keep an eye on it and let me know about it during the week in case I could make it back out to attempt to catch it again.

UPDATE: On the 19th, Marcus called to say a rehab person was able to capture the bird and remove the yarn. Problem solved!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Spoonbill in the Rain

I was doing my usual lake checks yesterday and thought I spotted a couple of pink dots on the far side of a retention pond but could not get a real clear view so I had to just assume it was a pair of Spoonbills and continued on to the store as part of my trip. On the way home the next day, I rounded Lake Emerald in the rain and...

Roseate Spoonbill

Guess I was right! Only one here today but I do now see Spoonbills in Orlando a lot more than I used to. The first I recall was also in the rain. Hmmmm...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Checking in on the Swallow-tailed Kites

My son and I finished banding raptors as noted in the previous post and I wanted to go by our banding site to check on the new Swallow-tailed Kites at Lake Lotus. Hey, it was on the way home, so why not?

We arrived at the site and headed through the gate and we were quickly greeted by another critter with a Swallowtail but it was a butterfly. A beautiful Tiger Swallowtail.

Tiger Swallowtail

Nearing the banding table we could hear the call of an adult Swallow-tailed Kite. He was soaring in quickly and landed at the nest, probably with some food, and then sped off again. It took a couple minutes to get Patrick in the proper spot to see the nest. I mentioned earlier that there is only one exact spot to see the nest and that spot is just below the banding table. He found it and we both took some photos.

Up in the nest was one of the juveniles. You can just make out the tan coloring on the feathers of a younger bird.

Swallow-tailed Kite

We will have to come back out to do some weeding soon and hopefully we can get some better views of the young. So glad we have access to witness this brood growing up.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Raptor Banding

I have been out to band some raptors before their release back into the wild a couple of times lately for our friends at the Avian Reconditioning Center and now they were ready to release some more. During this time, we have been helping to train Allison Miller in the hopes that she can be qualified to band them on their own.

We love heading out there but it is a good distance away and it would be more convenient if someone was able to do it whenever they are ready to set a bird free which can sometimes be at a moment's notice.

We had several species to band today and the first up was one of the last American Kestrel still on hand. We banded a bunch of them last month.

American Kestrel

Next up was a species we have not banded here in a while. Eastern Screech Owls. We occasionally catch them in the wild at the banding station. Today we had four adorable young birds ready for jewelry. Most were waiting by the door to their enclosure.

Eastern Screech Owl

Allison brought out the first Eastern Screech Owl. Notice the thick gloves they wear to grab the birds to avoid any injury. Raptor talons and beaks are super sharp and strong.

Eastern Screech Owl

Once she retrieved a bird, she would hand it over to me (no gloves for me!) so she can do the actual banding procedure.

Eastern Screech Owl

After being banded and the data recorded, the Eastern Screech Owls just want us to go away.

Eastern Screech Owl

On to the largest birds of the day. Great-horned Owls. Here, Allison applies the band to the first subject.

Great-horned Owl

Scott brought in the next Great-horned Owl. My son had the photography duties for these big guys, all juveniles.

Great-horned Owl

Great-horned Owl have extremely strong claws to grab their prey. Also a deadly set of talons you don't want to be caught up in!

Great-horned Owl

The last Great-horned Owl is brought...

Great-horned Owl

...and Allison applied another band while we check that everything is secured properly.

Great-horned Owl

You can see the band on this bird's leg and now we have a lot of birds about ready to be released.

Great-horned Owl

Allison is doing a great job with the banding so we now just wait for the paperwork to clear and she will be on her way to taking over. We are now discussing the possibility of doing a banding demo for their next Owl Fest in November. We would only be catching our typical small bird species but it would give the public a chance to see the banding process in action.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Bald Eagles Still Here is June

June. Our most quiet birding month as migrants are all gone. Seems I haven't been finding too many birds out there in a couple weeks. Of course, one of those weeks was getting the boys through graduations and cleaning house. My typical lake checks have turned up virtually nothing to blog home about.

I did go back to Greenwood Cemetery to check in on the Bald Eagle's progress as the days grow hotter when not cooled off by the afternoon rains. I did see Momma up in the nest tree so I got out to get a view. Suddenly, a shadow passed over me and I looked up to see one of the fledglings fly out. Both young birds are now out of the nest and flying about the area.

Bald Eagle

I turned my attention back to the female and got a shot of her in the shade regulating the heat.

Bald Eagle

Both of the fledglings were now in the pine used by Pappa as his perch. This is a tree that was right next to the old nest site tree that was killed during the hurricanes (has it been 10 years?!).

Bald Eagle

I headed over there to try for some closer views of the juveniles. The one that flew over me had its back to me but was lower for a better look.

Bald Eagle

Rounding the tree, I got a more full shot of the eaglet.

Bald Eagle

Higher up, the other eaglet flapped its wings in the late morning light.

Bald Eagle

Both look healthy for now but had better be prepared to head North asap.