Mallard Ducks (males)
Mallards, Black-bellied Whistlers, Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers were all visitors here at the little Lake Paradise in The Villages, FL this last two weeks. I took most of the pictures on December 11, 2016.
The Ring-necked Ducks and Hooded Mergansers are both diving ducks that eat fish, frogs, turtles, and larger aquatic insects.
The Whistlers and Mallards (also those Mottled Ducks around) eat both fish and plants. They are tipping ducks that are most often seen with their tails up and heads down in the water when feeding in the water. Mallards (and Mottled Ducks) and The Whistling Ducks seldom totally submerge. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Great Egret at right, Snowy Egret at left
Great Egrets are among the larger of the wading birds, while the Snowy Egret is a much smaller wading bird at about half the size of the Great Egret. The Great Egret has a bright yellow bill and black legs while the Snowy Egret has bright yellow feet, greenish-black coloring in the legs and a black bill. Both of these egrets are wading birds that eat fish, frogs, small tender turtles, aquatic snails and large aquatic insects and worms. The Great Egret also will eat shore-side mice, lizards, small snakes and larger insects.
Both of these birds are very beautiful big white birds! The Snowy Egret has stunningly beautiful plumage in breeding season, and is a real treat to see then. I took the picture in The Villages, FL on a local lake a few weeks ago. You really can see the difference in the size of both birds! Here in The Villages, in central Florida, we often have Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and the flocking Cattle Egrets. Only on occasion does one see the much rarer Reddish Egret (which closely resembles a lighter Little Blue Heron). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Great Egrets, Snowy Egret, Wood Storks
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!
This inquisitive Eastern Blue Jay was spying on the goings-on in the parking lot next to Lake Miramar in The Villages, Florida, yesterday late in the afternoon. Blue Jays are pretty intelligent birds and I think are often interested in what is happening around them.
I also think that the medium-sized songbird was investigating the fact that the White Ibis crowd and Seagulls in the park, were being hand fed by well-meaning (still should not be happening) tourist children. Maybe the Blue Jay had even been in on the goodies. Who knows? After a few moments, the jay flew off to other adventures elsewhere. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
This Snowy Egret was not really looking for a real estate deal but likely was simply perched after being inquisitive about the contents of the bird house. I have seen a pair of Eastern Bluebirds in this house so I think something on the order of fast food was on the mind of that wader! Yikes! But, that is nature. It is a fun-looking picture, though! I took these pictures here at a little neighborhood lake on Jan. 6, 2016. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!
The Black-bellied Whistlers here in my neighborhood hang out at one quiet residential end of the little park lake. They apparently are enjoying the scratch feed someone (not me) is leaving for them to eat. The bunch includes quite a number of youngsters among that flock. The juveniles have a grey-blue bill, legs and feet. Adults Black-bellied Whistling Ducks have the pink bill, legs, and feet.
This flock shares the lake with Lesser Scaups, Mallards, Mottled Ducks, Muscovy Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and even a Bufflehead Duck, in addition to a variety of wading birds, Pied-billed Grebes, and geese! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
American White Ibises are lovely goofy big wading birds. The many flocks here in my area frequent the little park lakes during the day. They have unfortunately learned to beg from well-meaning tourist visitors and unaware residents who treat them to bread, crackers or cereal as if they were park ducks. I do not participate in this and most folks here don’t but these ibises are conditioned to know that generally golf cart noises mean chow is here. By the way, it is generally illegal to feed exotic birds (Ibis, heron, egret, limpkin, spoonbills, stork, crane among others) in Florida.
The brown-colored ibis is a juvenile. They are especially attractive. As they age, their feathers will be replaced with the white and black ones that are the adult colors. Ibises mostly eat plants but also eat aquatic snails, small aquatic insects, worms, and occasionally very small fish or tadpoles.
I took these pictures here yesterday afternoon at two nearby small lakes. The ibises actually come up to people and are not wary at all. The have become really park pet animals but are still wild and free. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
During the past couple of days we have been seeing a big flock of Cedar Waxwings here in our neighborhood. It is likely that there are several hundred birds in the flock. These birds slightly resemble the Tufted Titmice in that they have a top-knot but they are larger, are a rosy beige with yellow, white and black markings. They Cedar Waxwings also have the appearance of a faint smokey-black eye mask. I really like these cuties!
The Cedar Waxwings like eating berries (such as the Juniper berries seen in some of these photographs) and small nuts. They also eat insects but generally are seed-eaters. They can sometimes become drunk from eating fermenting berries! What a thing! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger photo. Enjoy!
This Tri-color Heron lives along the shore of a small park lake a couple of blocks behind the Sharon Morse auditorium near The Villages. I usually see American Ibises and sometimes a Great Egret, Anhinga, or Wood Storks there at that lake. That little lake also is inhabited by one or more Alligators! Occasionally there are also various ducks around the shore too.
The Tri-color Heron is a medium-sized heron. The Tri-color Heron eats fish, aquatic snails, tadpoles, frogs, small turtles, aquatic worms, larger insects, and occasionally, duck eggs or newly hatched ducklings. Once in awhile, this heron will go hunting on shore and will catch small lizards, mice, snakes, and even land insects but mostly it enjoys aquatic foods. I took these pictures on Dec. 3, 2015. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy! Wishing all who celebrate, a happy Hanukkah!
Anhingas are tropical water birds that are excellent in flight and in the water. Some people know these birds as “Snake birds” because of their sinuous long neck. The Anhinga hunts mostly in the water and sometimes all you can see is the head or the head and neck of the bird just above the surface of the pond, lake, or river. These birds are very speedy in the air! Mostly they are seen flying low across the body of water they live near.
There are many Anhingas in my area of Florida. I live in a county where there are lots of smaller lakes loaded with the fish, frogs, turtles, and larger aquatic insects that the Anhinga likes eating. The Anhinga will spear its prey using its long sharply pointed bill. One often sees Anhingas with their wings outspread to dry their feathers after finishing their time hunting in the water. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger picture. Enjoy!