Once upon a time the only parrots visiting south Florida were the extinct Carolina Parakeet. Nowadays the overwhelming number of parrots in Florida are former caged pets, inadvertantly - or so one hopes - introduced. Our guide Larry explained hurricanes are forever up-ending aviaries, releasing birds to fend for themselves. In such relatively welcoming Florida climate, loosed birds buddy-up, start nesting and the rest is 'living history' flying about the suburbs.
First lifer of the day was a brilliant and hungry Spot-breasted Oriole that breakfasted on fruit in suburban trees. The Oriole was quickly followed by a pair of Egyptian Geese winging past.
|My lifer Egyptian Geese|
|Nanday Parrot showing off scarlet leggings|
Our second stop of the day was a mall that was actually free public housing for some White-winged Parakeets.
|Digiscoped shot of White-winged Parakeet|
The little parakeets are familiar to me. I was once given a feral White-winged Parakeet that I kept in my dorm room. The bird felt protective of me and attacked anyone who entered the room, until finally no one would; I got lonely. So on quarter break I took the bird home, giving it to my mother. The bird dropped me like a bad habit, falling wildly in love with my mom. And yes, I was then the one getting my ear bitten, and my nose nipped by the little Fruther Mucker.
A bit later the group was peering at another Parakeet that frankly, looks so much like the White-winged birds, that they were once considered the same species; Chevron-winged Parakeets.
|Crazy cute, Cheveron-winged Parakeet|
|Colorful Orange-fronted Parrot|
|Guilty looking pair as I ever saw: Mitered Parrots|
|Female Black-poll warbler|
|A 'cheeky' bird, & you can see its red feathered cheeks, or rather, 'whiskers'|
|This unfortunate shot shows the Bulbul's red vent as it darts off to pursue birdie business|
That was not what the man was about and instead he cheerfully asked, "You are birders. Would you like to see an owl in my yard?" Soon we were in a little side yard, peering into trees until the little bird was spotted.
|Sleepy eyed, Eastern Screech Owl|
The homeowner also took us into his back yard that overlooked a bit of creek. There were several birds around, including quite a few feral peafowl, I'm talking at least a dozen of the overly-loud birds. But the shocker of the day was this large Iguana up a tree.
|How'd you like finding this Jurassic-looking fellow in your back yard?|
Oh, and these little green and/or brown ferals are all over the place too. As a kid I got creepy Anoles at the circus. We called them chameleons, and they do change from green to brown or back at will. Ugh! I had many, but I was always creeped out by their food - live crickets. Inevitably the lizards escaped, only to be found later, desiccated in some corner of our home. UGH!
After much admiration of the little owl, and the back yard, we meandered back to the seemingly empty palm tree - empty no more.
|Chestnut-fronted freakn' Macaw|
Post lunch, late afternoon we visited another suburban spot with marsh There, Tri-colored Herons fished and Common Gallinules swam about with little black fuzzy chicks in tow.
|Steve, Marian and Larry, scanning an urban marsh for Swamphen|
|Blue Goose Passbook with dated stamp|
with barely visible, date in red
Thrilled to get stamp, perturbed as visitor center control freak wouldn't hand over the stamp so I could stamp it centered with precision. *fuming in silence*
Once I'd procured 'my precious' Larry drove us over to where we sought our last Florida speciality bird of the day - the Smooth-billed Ani.
There are two species of Ani (pronounced 'AH-knee') in the States, the Grove-billed and the Smooth-billed. Their ID is fairly straight forward, you look for a crow sized, floppy tailed, noisy bird with either a bulbous grooved bill or a bulbous smooth bill. Uh... OK, relatively straight forward ID.
It was late afternoon when we headed onto a raised, white gravely berm, headed north, flanked on either side by swamp. I was already feeling grumpy and irritable, hoping my pedal-turpitude wasn't obvious to the others. Larry told us he thought the Smooth-billed Ani nested in the trees about a half mile down, along the berm.
|Our goal was for the trees, way the %^*# in the distance along the berm|
We were not the only birder seeking the Ani, other birders, lugging spotting scope & binocs could be viewed in the distance marching along headed in the same direction we were. I grudgingly trudge along, distracting myself with other critters along the route.
|Lots of birds along the way - White Ibis in full breeding suits|
|Little Blue Heron|
|Sweet Annie's Fanny, 'our' Ani up a tree!|
|Anis have quite the showy tail, haven't they?|
|My lifer Smooth-billed Ani: a beautiful, exotic, native, cuckoo|
|On the Ani route, Leader Larry pointed out some turtle eggs, |
perhaps ravished by a raccoon
In the American Birding Association (ABA), a 'countable' life bird refers to a bird species native or non-native, which is an established breeder in North America, a birder may count as one of the number of bird species seen in total in one's lifetime.]