Lift Off!

A graceful Great Egret takes off from the waters of Cutler Wetland.

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Finally! A Real Owl

If you have been following this blog for a while you probably know two things.  First, its author is probably the worst birder in the world, and second, this struggling birder was once fooled by a stuffed owl planted by his scheming coworkers in a tree behind the office. Click here if you don’t know the story.  Since that day he has been striving to spot an actual living owl and has felt the victim of some kind of curse, because people who would never consider themselves birders accidentally see owls all the time, yet he, who goes great lengths to seek out the locations that they would likely be, has never been able to find one.  That is until today.  Finally an owl.  This one a Burrowing Owl.  Burrowing Owls are commonly spotted (by non-cursed people) in the fields surrounding small airports in South Florida.  The owls are a protected species, and their burrows are clearly marked by big bright orange cones so they are not inadvertently destroyed by those maintaining the fields.  If you find yourself at a small airport check for the cones.  There is a good chance you’ll see a Burrowing Owl perched on top, such as this one.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

American White Pelican

We have two species of Pelican in South Florida, the American White Pelican and the Brown Pelican.  Other than the obvious difference in their appearance, indicated by their names, their feeding styles are also quite different.  The Brown Pelican hovers and dives for its meals, while the American White Pelican forages while swimming.  It dips its large bill into the water and scoops up fish, amphibians and crayfish.  Here are some images of one catching a frog at Cutler Wetland in southern Miami-Dade, Florida.

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
Pulling up a frog…
down the hatch!

Blue Jay Breakfast

The Blue Jay is a colorful member of the corvids, more commonly known as the crow family.  Birds in this family are highly intelligent, and the Blue Jay is no exception.  The Blue Jay is bold, smart, territorial and loud when a potential predator is nearby.  It has a strong beak used for cracking nuts and acorns and is easily identified by its distinct blue and black markings and prominent crest.  The crest is usually flattened down against the head when feeding as show here below.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)


American Coot – Walking on Water

I have always found it both amazing and amusing when American Coots take off and run across the top of a pond.  Apparently it takes awhile for their little wings to provide enough lift to get themselves airborne, so off they go skipping over the surface of the water in a fashion that reminds me a lot of a pontoon plane.

American Coot (Fulica americana)


Red-winged Blackbirds at Wakodahatchee

The Red-winged Blackbirds at Wakodahatchee Wetlands seemed to be very curious about all of the humans milling around.  They flitted around the boardwalks, constantly scolding us with their “o-ka-reeee” calls. I was able to get within a few yards of some of them, which allowed me to get some detailed shots of their facial features.  I found their expressions to be priceless.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
It looks like he is smiling at me.  (I bet he isn’t smiling on the inside.)
Ready to fly