Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, White Ibis and the grand Wood Storks are large white wading birds that have been here in The Villages in recent weeks. The Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and White Ibis are here all the time, but the Cattle Egrets are very occasional. The Wood Storks come and go every few weeks it seems. The other large white birds are the White Pelicans, which are here in the Winter and early Spring, the white phase of the Little Blue Heron, and the white Great Blue Herons.
The only ones of these listed that really are not truly wading birds, are the Cattle Egrets which prefer being in cattle or horse pastures along with the livestock. All of these birds are great flyers and the Wood Storks have been known for flying quite a long ways to find food. I believe many of the Ibis and egrets are now roosting on Lake Mira-mar near the Veteran’s Memorial Park end of the little lake (having probably moved from the now abandoned roosts on Morse Blvd. near Rio Grande). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.
Ornamental Waterfalls at Paradise Lake in The Villages, FL
The wildlife such as White Ibis, Great Blue Herons, Mottled Ducks, all are enjoying a much fuller Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL this week. I am thrilled that the little park lake is now full of water and the ornamental waterfalls are turned back on. Lots of beautiful local scenery.
This park lake has seen a huge variety of birds visit. The White Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Canada Geese, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Mottled Ducks, Mallard Ducks and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are resident birds. We also get visits by White Pelicans, Bald Eagles, Osprey, Bufflehead Ducks, Coots, Hooded Mergansers, Egyptian Geese, Try-colored Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Wood Storks, Muscovy Ducks; Lesser Scaups, Yellowlegs, Kildeer, Anhingas, Double-belted Kingfishers, and occasionally a few other types of wild ducks such as Teal, Wood Ducks, White Pekin Ducks, and others. It is a really nifty spot to bird watch but the birds do come and go so one never knows how many varieties of birds one will see. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.
Great Egret and Tri-color Heron
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!
Palm Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds, and a lone Tufted Titmouse were spotted in the past week here in my neighborhood. One of the Palm Warblers was seen below ornamental grass at Paradise Park in The Villages, FL. The other birds were in my own yards. It is great to see all the newly arriving songbirds who have migrated here for the Winter! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of that photo. Enjoy!
Eastern Bluebird male
Flocks of Sandhill Cranes, White Pelicans and Wood Storks have recently visited our little neighborhood park lake (Paradise Lake) here in The Villages, FL. Because we have had so little rainfall, the lake has rapidly been shrinking and the fishing seems to be the big draw for the migratory wading and water birds!
It was quite funny for me yesterday to shoot a round of archery here, while a large group of White Pelicans flew right over the lake-side archery range! A most pleasant distraction for sure.
I drive past Swartz Park on my way home from my daily archery practice so I get to notice when there are large gatherings of the wading or water birds on the lake. I took these pictures on December 21, and Dec. 22, 2016. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy! I want to wish all a Merry Christmas! I will continue the second part of this three part series on Monday.
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Tri-colored Herons and Great Blue Herons make their home on the lovely little Lake Paradise here in The Villages, FL. This small private residential lake often hosts a few of the large wading birds. I took these pictures mostly from Swartz Park.
The Tri-colored Herons are steel grey, cream, and have maroon highlights on the upper neck and back. They have yellow legs and a brownish-yellow bill. These birds eat fish, frogs, turtles, aquatic insects, aquatic snails, and occasionally ducklings.
Great Blue Herons are among the larger of the wading birds. These birds are medium-grey, with black and white. They often have a few back hanging feathers off of the crown of their head like a long mohawk. They occasionally are seen in an all white color, which is quite similar to the way the Great Egret looks. These herons eat basically the same foods as the Tri-colored Herons do. The Great Blue Herons sleep and nest up in large trees, preferring evergreens or Cypresses.
I took these pictures during the late afternoon on a couple of days in the past week. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
The Northern Cardinals are seed-eaters and also occasionally enjoy nuts, and berries or fruit. Sunflower seeds are considered prime treats for Northern Cardinals. They also like suet a little bit – especially the suet with apples or other fruits embedded within the cake. These beautiful songbirds often will come to bird feeders. They seem to also hunt on lawns quite often. These birds especially enjoy perching in lower branches or in large shrubbery.
The hen is a rusty brown in color while the male is bright red. The juvenile male looks quite similar to the female adult. The cardinals often will be seen in small flock family groups where there will be two males and two or three hens. Occasionally the extra males will just be eager suitors.
I took the pictures of the Cardinals on Thursday morning, October 6, 2016. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!