This small flock of Hooded Merganser Ducks arrived at Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL, earlier last week. These are migrating ducks who are late Fall and Winter visitors to Florida. The male or drake duck is the more colorful of the pair. These ducks have a fold or hood of skin and feathers that the bird raises if alarmed or aroused. That is why the ducks are named the way they are.
Hooded Mergansers are diving ducks that eat fish, frogs, larger tadpoles, baby alligators and larger aquatic insects. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
These Great Egrets were spotted in The Villages, Florida at El Santiago Golf Pond, Silver Lake Recreation Center Pond, and Lake Paradise near Schwartz Park and Boone Park. I took these pictures this past weekend. Some of the areas are harder to get to still due to minor flooding, but more areas are opening up once again.
The Great Egrets eat small fish, frogs, turtles, baby alligators, mice, lizards, baby birds, and snakes (and other small critters). They fish with their long sharp yellow bills and spear their prey. These birds are mostly wading birds but they do hunt on land in shrubbery and on lawns at times. Great Egrets are white with yellow bills, black legs and black feet. They are among the tallest of the egrets. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
A small flock of Sandhill Cranes visited the shrinking Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL last evening at twilight. This lake’s water level is continuing to drop as our local drought goes on. I took most of the pictures from the wooden deck at Swartz Park at a pretty far distance.
The Sandhill Cranes are loving the exposed tender aquatic plants and grasses now above water. They also occasionally dine on land insects, mice, small lizards, aquatic insects, frogs, worms, crawdads (crayfish) and tadpoles. Mostly the cranes prefer grains and grasses. I often have spotted Sandhill Cranes in ranch pastures and even on the golf courses here in The Villages.
I enjoyed seeing about twelve Sandhill Cranes along with a Trip-colored Heron, a Great Blue Heron, a Snowy Egret, several shorebirds, and about a hundred black-bellied Whistlers plus assorted Mallards and Canada Geese last night on the lake. Lots to see. I will share more photo’s of the birds here in coming posts. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
This group of Wood Storks was here in December but several are still around the area. The Wood Storks are genuinely odd-looking sweet big birds! I love seeing them here.
Wood Storks roost in trees but wade in shallow water to hunt for crustaceans, aquatic snails, larger aquatic insects, small fish, shore-side large land insects, and worms. The Wood Storks also eat grains and plants on occasion.
Mostly the Wood Storks just stand around. That seems to really be the case. Wood Storks are very passive calmer birds and that helps make them easy to photograph. I sometimes wonder what they are thinking and doing? Fascinating birds. By the way, the younger birds have lighter-colored pink feet (Wood Storks of all ages do have pink feet) and lighter-colored bills. I have read that Wood Storks may fly some fifty miles from their own roost area to find enough food. That seems amazing! They sure are good at flying! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Water is all around us here in lovely Florida! I live in a county with many ponds and lakes. Our community has many man-made park lakes and ponds. Here are some of the beautiful big birds that visit the shores of these community lakes here in The Villages, Florida. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo. Enjoy.
Note: We will be having a hurricane (tropical cyclone or typhoon as it is called elsewhere) come by our state on Friday. I live right in the center of the peninsula about 60 miles from the coastline. If the weather is not terrible and we have power I will post as normal on Friday. If not, well, there is a great reason. I will let you know what happens around here (I do not expect it to be bad at all).
It has been rainy here so I have not gotten out much but I did manage to snap a few pictures of birds on my street in recent days. I spotted a tiny Carolina Wren enjoying the bird feeder that is in a neighbor’s yard. I also took a picture of an Eastern Blue Jay perched on the top branches of a very tall tree near my home. That picture was taken at dusk in very low light so I have lightened it quite a lot here.
The last two pictures were of a Mourning Dove and a couple of male Boat-tailed Grackles enjoying that very same bird feeder. My neighbor’s feeder attracts many different birds! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Eastern Blue Jay
House Finches are sweet attractive little songbirds. A small flock of the House Finches lives here on my street. These little guys love to grab a bite to eat at my neighbor’s bird feeder.
Finches love Niger Seed, Black Sunflower Seed, and mixed prepared commercial bird seed. The male here is the one with the red chest and the females are streaky brown. The females look very similar to sparrows, female black birds, and female cowbirds but slightly smaller. I took these pictures last weekend. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photograph. Enjoy!
Brown Thrashers have made their home in my neighborhood recently. These attractive songbirds are close relatives of the Northern Mockingbirds, and Catbirds. They even are very expert at singing! In reading up on the gorgeous rusty-brown and beige birds, I found that they can sing about 1,000 different tones. They only sing three notes at a time, but they can repeat the pattern or change the three notes. Very accomplished musical birds, and pretty, too!
The Brown Thrashers eat nearly all kinds of insects, worms, grubs, seeds, nuts, and fruits. I most often see the Brown Thrashers hunting on the ground. They seem pretty wary and I usually cannot get anywhere near them before they fly off. I took these pictures on my street here yesterday. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that picture. Enjoy!
The geese are so smart that they have learned to bump the bird feeder pole and get a shower of tasty seeds to fall to the ground. Here at the little neighborhood park lake which is a residential lake as well, the waterfowl have all learned to take advantage of certain bird feeders for some extra chow!
I don’t know if the owners know the true reason for the waterfowl crowd being in their yard, but it is a interesting situation to observe. Poor squirrels may be getting a bad rap! Ha! Who can say? I do know that the Canada Geese, Florida Mottled Ducks, White Ibis, Double Crested Cormorants, and the Egyptian Geese sure love pecking up the bits of bird food scattered around the shoreline backyard! I took these pictures this last weekend. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
Our National Bird, The Bald Eagle
Here are some pictures that you may enjoy! Hooray for the Red, the White, and the Blue! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy! Have a safe and wonderful Independence Day!
Male Northern Cardinal
Eastern Blue Jay