Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, and Little Blue Herons are the most commonly seen herons here in The Villages, Florida. The Great Blue Heron is the most frequently seen, followed by the Little Blue Heron. I think I have only seen one Green Heron here and that was a year ago.
All of these herons are wading birds that shuffle along in the shallows of the lakes and ponds to spear fish, frogs, or turtles with their long sharp bills. They also eat larger insects, small lizards, and large aquatic insects or snails.
The herons roost up in tall trees. Many prefer the Cypress Trees here. Some also will roost in the medium-sized trees where there also are Ibis or Egrets. We used to have a large area of roosts on Morse Blvd. (I had photographed it and posted about it many months ago) but that area seems out of favor with the birds in recent months. I don’t know the reason for the big move. It could be a case of too much threat from coyotes or other predators. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version of the photo.
Little Blue Heron
Seagulls, Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets have been here on the little park lakes in recent days. The weather has been very windy here so the bird watching is not as active. It is also nesting time. I took these pictures at Lake Paradise which has a low water level now, and also at the lake behind Freedom Pointe here in The Villages, FL. Please click on the thumbnail image to see a slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
This tiny bird is a male Downy Woodpecker. It is among the smallest of the woodpeckers in the United States. You can tell it is a male by that red spot on the crown of its head.
The Downy was pecking away at a larger branch in my Live Oak Trees when I spotted it. It flitted around from branch to branch in search of insects. Sometimes when the bird drills or pecks it is done to communicate, other times the drumming or pecking is to drill a hole or enlarge a hole for either a nesting place, or a storage unit. The other reason for pecking, is to discover and dislodge insects in the bark of the tree.
I always love seeing these birds! This is the first woodpecker here in quite a long time. I wish the light was better when I took the pictures. The Live Oaks in the yard are gigantic and are very shady. I had a hard time getting a decent picture and have resorted to heavy editing to show the bird in a way you can see a bit of what the fellow looks like. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
This Little Blue Heron was spotted yesterday, March 5, 2017, at the pretty little pond next to the Wal-Mart parking lot on CR 466 here in The Villages. I have photographed birds and wildlife at this pond many times. No, I did not see any alligators yesterday there, just this bird, a drake Hooded Merganser, three Mallards, and a lone Common Moorhen. Not much going on at the pond yesterday afternoon (It was very windy).
Little Blue Herons eat fish, frogs, turtles, mice, lizards, snakes and large insects. They spear their prey with their sharp long bill. These birds actually start out as white-colored juveniles and get darker blue as they age. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Great Egrets are here on our lakes all year around. I enjoy them very much. The Great Egrets are the taller of the egrets here. We basically have Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and the Great Egrets. On rare occasions, we will spot a Reddish Egret but they are quite unusual here.
The Great Egrets wade in shallow water and hunt for fish, turtles, frogs, tadpoles, larger insects, small shore-side snakes and mice. They spear their prey with their strong pointed bill. The Great Egret is white with a yellow bill and black legs and feet. They have yellow eyes. They are exquisite when in their billowy breeding plumage! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Killdeer at the Freedom Pointe Lakes
Killdeer, Great Blue Herons, a Little Blue Heron, and a number of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were all spotted on and in our little lakes here in The Villages, Florida, in the last several days. Additionally, there were Wood Storks, Anhingas, a few Hooded Merganser Ducks, Ring Necked Ducks, Mallards, Egyptian and Canada Geese, and Great Egrets. I think the Killdeer possibly was standing right on its nest in the picture above, but it may also just be some pebbles.
I enjoy going sound to different lakes to check out what kinds of birds are visiting. More and more (and different) birds are arriving during the Winter migration. Just yesterday, I saw an amazing fifty or so Great Egrets plus about twenty Wood Stork out on one of the small park lakes here. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo. Enjoy!
Black-bellied Whistling Duck at Swartz Park on Lake Paradise
Little Blue Heron (Boone Park on Paradise Lake)
Great Blue Heron at a Freedom Pointe area lake
I spotted this very tiny bird way up in the crown of my Live Oak Tree, a few days ago in the late afternoon. The bird seems to have a white breast, and looks like it has dark tipped tail feathers and is blue or blue-grey. Maybe a Blue-headed Vireo? Or, possibly it is a Blue-Grey Gnat Catcher? It looks from the ground, looking upward, like a miniature Yellow-billed Cuckoo. It is very small, like a slender Chickadee-sized bird. Behavior-wise, the bird flitted around the leafy crown of the tree. If anyone has ideas, let me know. This is not important in any way, just a bird I do not know. Thanks! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture.