Roseate Spoonbills, Sandhill Cranes, Wood Storks, Limpkins, a Black Crowned Night Heron, Egyptian Geese, White-phase Little Blue Herons, and Green Herons have all been photographed in freshwater marshes (sometimes referred to as “Prairies”), ponds, and small lakes here in or near The Villages, Florida. I love seeing these birds!
The Roseate Spoonbill (only seen here once in the four years I have lived here, the Black-crowned and White Little Blue Heron have to be the most seldom seen here of all of the above mentioned wading birds. The most common are the Wood Storks and Sandhill Cranes among the ones I am featuring today. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
White Phase Little Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Roseate Spoonbill with Great Egrets
Great Blue Herons are now beginning to raise young and are molting (losing breeding feathers) so they are mostly on their nests unless hunting for a meal. They wade in shallow water in the early morning and late afternoon to catch fish, frogs, ducklings, shoreline snakes, lizards, and nearly anything else they can catch to eat.
We have a year-around population of Great Blue Herons here in The Villages, Florida. These birds nest in colonies way up in sturdy Oaks and Pines near ponds or lakes. Many are now proud parents and will be raising chicks for several more weeks. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
This Snowy Egret was spotted on the shoreline of the Freedom Pointe Lake here in The Villages, Florida, while I was riding down the multi-modal path in the golf cart. This lake often has egrets, herons, ibis or ducks on the shore in this particular area. This bird was actively hunting for its meal of fish or frogs. The egret walks along in the shallows looking for its prey. These are very good hunters! Beautiful, too. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
White Pelicans apparently have decided to stick around here in The Villages in limited numbers. I noticed about eight of the big white beauties a few days ago on the pond called “Golf View Lake” near Paradise Park, and probably the same group, at Lake Paradise the next day. I had also spotted a small number of the pelicans on a different pond at the Nancy Lopez Legacy Golf Course (not the driving range pond).
So, I may have been premature about declaring that the pelicans had migrated North. We will see if these few stay here in The Villages over the Winter as some did last season. Who knows? Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo. Enjoy!
Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets are the three types of egrets that are commonly seen here in Central Florida. The largest is the Great Egret. The smallest is the Snowy Egret with the Cattle Egret being the chunky middle-sized one of the three. There is a Reddish Egret that is rarely seen and I have only once gotten a photo of that egret. That Reddish Egret looks like a magenta version of the Little Blue Heron. The smaller herons are actually egrets so it is no wonder they all have similar characteristics.
The Great Egret is one that sometimes goes away from the water to forage in shrubbery for snakes and lizards, mice and larger insects to eat. The Cattle Egret likes to walk around pastures where horses or cattle are present. You also occasionally see Cattle Egrets at ponds and lakes where they will drink and occasionally hunt. The Snowy Egret has yellow legs and feet and a slender black bill and is mostly seen on the shore or in shallow water of ponds and lakes and marshes. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Double-crested Cormorants are here for their Winter visit to The Villages, Florida. These birds are at home on and in the water, as well as roosting in the larger trees over-night. They are also excellent at flying from place to place. These water birds will be leaving our area in coming days and weeks to start migrating North. Cormorants often accompany White Pelicans or Great Egrets in their migration.
Cormorants eat fish, frogs, small turtles, baby alligators, and larger aquatic insects. The brown, rust. grey and black birds with orange bills, dive for their prey. The birds like Anhingas, spread their wings to dry them before flight.
Sometimes, the Double-crested Cormorants will assist the White Pelicans in hunting by circling the fish to gather them and then sharing the bounty. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!