Birding the Neighborhood: American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is our smallest falcon.  I see this little guy around the neighborhood all the time.  He likes to perch on the posts scattered around the large open fields, that were cleared for building houses before the real estate bust.  A recent foggy morning provided an opportunity to get some nice shots.


Northern Cardinal (Female) with Seed

I spotted this female Northern Cardinal at Castellow Hammock Park, a South Florida birding hot spot.  I saw the male a couple of times as well but wasn’t able to get him to pose for a photo.

Northern Cardinal (Female)

Northern Mockingbird

“Mock…(yeah)  Ing…(yeah)  Bird…(yeah)  Yeah…(yeah)  Mock-ing-bird!”

It’s a horrible, irritating song from the movie Dumb and Dumber that gets stuck in my head whenever I see a mockingbird. It’s a curse I have to live with. Enjoy these photos of Northern Mockingbird from my backyard, and don’t watch that movie.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

“Mock…(yeah)  Ing…(yeah)   Bird…

Birding the Everglades: Chekika State Recreation Area

Chekika State Recreation Area is another great birding location just a few minutes from the suburban sprawl in southern Miami-Dade County, FL.  Until last weekend I never knew it existed, despite growing up less than thirty minutes away.  Chekika is part of Everglades National Park and is open to the public between December and May.  The Chekika facility includes a small pond, a hammock with a hiking trail and a large lawn suitable for picnics. It is surrounded by sprawling fields of sawgrass. My short visit there on Sunday yielded several different bird species, including some firsts for me.

A Killdeer, one of my new favorite birds.

“Hmmm, let’s see if there is anything to eat over here.”  (Little Blue Heron)

“Ummm, Maybe I’ll try somewhere else.” (Little Blue Heron)

I originally identified this as a Red-tailed Hawk, but stand corrected.  It’s a Red-shouldered Hawk.

Red-shouldered Hawk

He watched me closely, but never left his post.

Green Heron, active as usual.

Great Crested Flycatcher

A pair of juvenile Common Moorhens stopped by for a drink.

Backyard Birding – Egrets

“Daddy! Daddy!  Come quick!”

My six-year-old daughter bounced up and down, beckoning me to the sliding glass door at the back of the house.  This is what she saw.  I told her she is becoming a very good birder.

Two Western Cattle Egrets soaring over the pond.

Western Cattle Egrets

Great Egret and Cattle Egrets and a third coming in for a landing.

Great Egret and Western Cattle Egrets

Great Egret

First Bird of 2011

What was your first bird this year?  For me it was a Turkey Vulture hovering overhead as part of a group of Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures.  That is not very surprising as Turkey Vultures are a very common sight in Florida.  I am writing this post on the second morning of the new year, and so far this year I have identified five different bird species.  In addition to the two vultures I saw a Great Egret, Western Cattle Egrets and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  I am still waiting to see what my first new species will be.

I set a goal for myself to see and identify 200 different bird species in 2011.  I started birding in late 2010 and was able to identify 45 different birds.  So if I am going to reach my goal I’ll need to see 155 new types of birds.  Even in a place like South Florida, I think this will be quite a challenge.  I’ll be tracking my progress here on this blog on the Year List page.

So how about you?  What was your first bird?  Perhaps you haven’t identified one yet.  Do you have any birding goals for 2011?  Perhaps you are also tracking your 2011 birds on your blog?  Or maybe you have some tips for us novice birders.  Let us know in the comments below.