A cute Pied-billed Grebe was spotted at the golf course pond behind the Mark Twain Library here in The Villages, FL on Sunday afternoon. The small water bird is a frequent Winter visitor to our area. This bird dives for aquatic snails, small fish, tiny frogs, tadpoles, tender small crayfish, and aquatic worms.
I rarely see flocks of these birds but generally do see one or two at a time. These are at home on ponds lakes and slower flowing rivers. The Pied-billed Grebe is named for the banded, short, chicken-like bill the bird has. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Hooded Merganser Ducks at Lake Mira-mar
Great Egrets; White Pelicans; Snowy Egrets; Wood Storks; Pied-billed Grebes; Hooded Mergansers; Lesser Scaup Ducks; Mallard Ducks; Black-bellied Whistling Ducks; Great Blue Herons; Seagulls; Common Coots; Moorhens; Double-crested Cormorants; Egyptian Geese; Canada Geese; White Ibis; Florida Mottled Ducks; Little Blue Herons, Anhingas; and to a lesser extent Sandhill Cranes; Glossy Ibis; and Limpkins, all are currently to be seen here in The Villages, FL on lakes, ponds, and park-like lawns.
Of course, I am only showing just a few here on today’s post. It is such fun to see the big birds en-mass, at various times. By the way, the roost area on Morse Ave. near Rio Grande that had been abandoned for about a year, is back to being used by at least the White Ibises and a few egrets! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Pied-billed Grebe at Lake Mira-mar
Snowy Egrets, Seagulls, Pelican, Wood Stork, all at Freedom Pointe Lake
The fishing must have been quite good as a couple of days ago I spotted a Tri-colored Heron, a Snowy Egret, a pair of Pied-billed Grebes, and later, some Hooded Mergansers all trying to catch their lunch in the shallows of a little park lake near here. All really love eating small fish, tadpoles, frogs, small turtles, and aquatic snails.
This particular little lake also has a few small resident alligators competing and preying so I think the wading birds are pretty careful – I know I was! This arm of the lake is behind the Veteran’s Memorial near Spanish Square and next to the famous golf cart bridge over highway 441. Please click on the thumbnail image to see a larger version of that photo. Enjoy!
American White Ibises and a resting Wood Stork
There have been a tremendous number of water birds, and wading birds here in my area in the last week. I have seen several hundred Hooded Merganser ducks, about twenty-two or more Wood Storks, ten or so Great Blue Herons, probably thirty Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets, Anhingas, Common Cormorants, White Pelicans (sorry no pictures as they left before I returned with the camera), a Tri-color Heron, hundreds of American White Ibises, a pair of Sandhill Cranes, Canada, Egyptian and Chinese Geese, Pied-billed Grebes, Common Coots, and a Limpkin!
Such fun to watch all this action on a daily basis. I took these pictures here in Sumter and Lake Counties in The Villages, Florida, in the past week. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Great Blue Heron
Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets
Every year at about this time during the Fall, the Pied-billed Grebes come back to visit the lake. They seem to stay around, except when the lake is totally frozen-over. This group of about five younger Pied-billed Grebes seemed to be unafraid and curious about the shoreline area. Previous groups or individual Grebes usually were quite shy and tended to dive under the water to avoid human presence of any kind. Our lake has had little boat traffic recently since the marina is closed for the season. It has been much quieter here on the water than in past weeks.
The Pied-billed Grebes are water birds but are not ducks. They are great divers and eat insects, fish, and small water animals. The birds get their names because the short bill has a slight banding of a darker color. This band becomes much darker during the breeding season for the males. These water birds do fly and also do most of their traveling on the lake by paddling like ducks do. I was very happy to see the group of Pied-billed Grebes! Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
I took these pictures of the Western Grebes a few weeks ago before the lake froze over. I have not seen them in the last week. These larger water birds are migrant visitors. The Western Grebe, like the much smaller Pied-Billed Grebe, eat small aquatic animals and fish. They dive for their meals. The Grebes tend to paddle in pairs but sometimes will join with the Ducks and Coots. Since the American Coots already were up on my dock and in my yard, the Grebe just decided to hop up onto the dock and sit with the Coots. Boy was I ever surprised to see the Grebe out of the water and on the wooden dock! I have not seen this happen before or since. The Grebe was on the dock on 1/2/11. The smaller black-colored bird sitting next to the Grebe is an American Coot. I took the pictures from my basement window. I have also included a photo of the Western Grebe paddling in the water that I took on 1/3/11. I was quite pleased to be able to see the Western Grebe up close on that cold winter day. Please click on the thumbnail version to see the larger photo. Enjoy!