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!
Great and Snowy Egrets and Mallard Ducks
Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and several other kinds of wading birds and water birds were all spotted at a large freshwater marsh/rainfall retention area that is a nature preserve here in The Villages, FL community. This bird spot is located on Buena Vista Blvd. just South of the Lake Miona Recreation Center and the Bass Fishing Pond on that same street.
There were perhaps fifty egrets there with additional Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, White Ibis, and Mottled Ducks, Mallard Ducks and the ever popular Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (including many juvenile whistlers)! A truly nice gathering of birds to observe. I took these pictures yesterday morning from the grassy area off of the multi-modal path near a nicely placed bench. I of course used my long lens as the birds were quite a distance away. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly smaller version of the photo. Enjoy!
Egrets and Florida Mottled Ducks
Egrets in the Preserve
I spotted this pair of Sandhill Cranes standing next to the golf cart path on Sumter County Road 466 on the Arnold Palmer Legends golf course in The Villages, FL on Sunday night at about 5:30pm.
It is not too unusual to see Sandhill Cranes on the courses here in The Villages. They love browsing for grass, seeds, and insects. Of course the tender grass is easy on their feet and most of the courses have a pond for them to drink from. I think the Sandhill Cranes pictured are Florida natives. We have several breeding pairs in the area. 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!
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
Yesterday afternoon my husband and I visited the Weichens nature preserve here in The Villages, FL. We saw several really wonderful birds. No squirrels this time as it was hot and very windy out. One has to take their time at this preserve. Because the rules say that visitors need to stay on the sidewalk and boardwalk, the viewing space through the lawn area is pretty distant as far as birds go. The Sherman’s Fox Squirrels usually hang out on the ground near the sidewalk so that is a plus.
Take your time if visiting. Being patient is helpful in that birds often appear out of nowhere and only stay a brief moment or two in one spot. By the way, thanks to a knowledgeable reader, I have identified the hawk I saw yesterday as a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Beautiful bird! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
Male Common Moorhen
Family of Common Moorhens
Osprey in Flight
Little Blue Heron
Common Moorhen Chick
The Mallard Duck
I saw this drake Mallard in my back yard one early evening. I snapped that particular picture through my window. Imagine my surprise as I live about a half-mile from the nearest pond or lake. After having seen this duck, I noticed that there have been a few of these ducks roaming around this neighborhood in the last couple of weeks. Perhaps in search of a honey or maybe just different food? Who can say.
I spotted the Killdeer, Tri-colored Heron and the Great Egret at Santiago Golf Course pond, and the Wood Duck drake at Paradise Lake at Boone Park in The Villages, Florida. This Wood Duck is one of the few Wood Ducks I have ever seen in The Villages.
Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
A Tri-colored Heron at Santiago Golf Course Pond
A Great Egret Hunts
A Great Egret at Santiago Golf Course Pond
A Killdeer at Santiago Golf Course
Canada Geese at Boone Park
A Wood Duck at Boone Park
Sandhill Cranes have made their home in The Villages, FL at several locations. They enjoy eating tender grasses so the big birds may be found around some of the golf courses and parks. They also spend time near ponds and lakes for the water source. They do not like wooded or tremendously marshy land except to travel through or to get a drink of water. They prefer cleared land. They also eat grains.
This pair of Sandhill Cranes are native here in Florida and have not migrated. That is how one tells the natives from the migratory cranes from the Midwestern areas of the United States. Basically, both types of Sandhill Cranes are nearly the same. I am always thrilled to see the Sandhill Cranes here! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly smaller version of the photo. Enjoy! Wishing all Moms a Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday!