Tag Archives: birds

Some FUNky facts about the osprey

Some FUNkey facts about the osprey

I adventured last week with some fellow nature lovers to Estero Marsh Preserve, a Lee County Conservation 20/20 property in Fort Myers, Florida, where we encountered this beautiful osprey. She was quite vocal and animated about something as we passed by the huge slash pine where she was perched. Here are some FUNky facts I’ve learned about the osprey.

1. The osprey occurs on every continent except Antarctica. It’s the 2nd most widely distributed raptor, right after the peregrine falcon.

2. Ospreys have a reversible toe that helps them to hold onto slippery fish. You can see the toe in this picture, gripping the back end of the branch while the other toes are in the front. However, I have personally witnessed the failure to hold onto a fish. Several years back, I saw an osprey snatch a fish from the pond in my back yard, only to drop it back into the water on the ascent. The bird circled round and round, screaming in frustration, but was not able to find the fish again, and eventually gave up. Lucky fish!

3. The osprey pairs for life, breeding with the same mate year after year. They build a giant nest of twigs and sticks, often atop man-made structures such as channel markers and street light posts. A pair of osprey will cohabitate for about half the year – as long as it takes to mate, lay and incubate eggs, and fledge their young from the nest.

4. 99% of the osprey’s diet is comprised of fish, so they always live near water. They hunt in fresh water as well as brackish and salt water. What comprises the other 1% of the osprey’s diet? They will occasionally catch and eat small animals such as mice, rabbits, frogs, lizards, or other birds.

5. The more dense the local population of ospreys is, the later in life an osprey will breed. This is due to competition for suitable nesting sites – places that will support the massive nests and are high enough off the ground to reduce the risk of predator invasion. Sometimes, environmental or wildlife groups will build platforms to provide more nesting site options.

More photos of local ospreys:

A Sanibel osprey vogues for me

Critter encounters at Bowditch Point (scroll to the bottom on this one)

Sunset cruise on Rookery Bay, Part 5

Six Mile Cypress Slough – it’s for the birds!

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Boardwalk pavilion at Six Mile Cypress SloughI’ve been trying to make it a point to get to the Six Mile Cypress Slough at least once a week during the cooler months. So far, I’m three for three (weeks, that is!). This past Friday, I actually remembered to bring my camera with me, so I was able to avail myself of some optical zoom, which certainly helps when you’re trying to photograph things that will cut and run – or, more accurately, FLY – if you get too close.

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As I entered the gated portion of the boardwalk, I was pleased to note how much water there was in the slough. Just last week, parts of the swamp were mere mud puddles. Due to nearly four days of gray skies and rain last week, pretty unusual for December, the slough is nicely recharged. Walking through this section, I heard this little guy before I saw him – a downy woodpecker was pecking his way up and down and all around the branch of a tree. He’s fast! Hard to catch him before he ducks around the other side.

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This majestic great egret stood his ground, even when I inadvertently spooked a group of ibis and they fluttered all around him. I was on my way to one of the viewing pavilions, where I saw this next fellow…

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This male anhinga has been on the same branch in the same corner of the same pond for the last three weeks in a row. I think that’s “his” branch. He’d probably be annoyed if he ever found someone squatting on it. Also on this pond, but too far away to photograph – two turtles, a black-crowned night heron, a baby gator about a foot long, and another anhinga sleeping with his head all tucked in. Back down the boardwalk and off in the bushes, I was able to capture this fellow…

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I could barely see him in the branches – he’s well-camouflaged! I believe this is a juvenile black-crowned night heron. There were a few of these guys hanging out here several weeks ago.

Well, those are the best of the bunch for this week. It’s quite a thrill every time I get to hang out with these guys :)

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Old-world charm with a modern world backdrop

I ambled down to the Caloosahatchee River from Ford’s caretaker’s-cottage-turned-gift-shop and sat on a bench. Immediately, the wind coaxed a song from the giant stands of bamboo that paint a lacy pattern on the sky.

Feeling for all the world like Forest Gump waitin’ on the bus, I watched with held breath as a feather wafted down from somewhere above and gently deposited itself in the river.

Safe journey, little wafter.

An egret glided in and claimed a spot on one of the pilings of Ford’s old dock. Without his black-beaked profile, he blended with the clouds behind him.

I raised the camera and whispered, "Turn sideways, please".

He turned and I took the shot. He turned again and looked right at me. I grinned at him and whispered again. "Thanks, dude."

Give me one good reason why I should ever rise from this bench!

[VIDEO] Look, up in that tree – it’s “Woody”!

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Pileated Woodpecker at Six Mile Cypress SloughWeek before last, I took a stroll deep into the swamp – the Six Mile Cypress Slough here in Fort Myers – and I heard a familiar sound. After looking around for a bit, I found him. He’s a pileated “Woody” woodpecker, with a ruby red crest on his head. Isn’t he beautiful? What a treat! Actually, I did even better than this – I got about a 10 second video of him before he moved around to the other side of the tree and out of sight. Sorry it isn’t longer, but that’s wildlife for ya – always doing just as they please, leaving us photographers fumbling to get something decent. I hope I see him again sometime when I go back. Enjoy!

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Visitor At A Southwest Florida Pond

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JULY 19TH, 2010 – 6:42 pm: I’d just been entertaining a passel of friends for a long weekend of hanging out and reminiscing. Now they were all going home. Made the last airport run of the day and came back to the house, only to find a new visitor had arrived and was stalking a meal out in the back yard. Ran for my camera, by which time he’d moved a couple of yards over.

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He didn’t much like it when I stepped off the lanai. He proceeded to fluff himself up indignantly and stalk down the bank of the pond (probably muttering, “damned paparazzi!”).

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OCTOBER 9TH, 2010 – 4:20 PM: I saw him quite a bit throughout the rest of the summer, but had a pretty hard time getting him to show me his best side. It seems he’s extraordinarily reticent (I’m trying to be nice here – I think he might actually be a snob).

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As always, the minute I stepped off the lanai, there he went. Here’s a shining example of his exit strategy – he just shows me his tail feathers!

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OCTOBER 10TH, 2010 – 6:27 PM: The back of the house faces precisely west, and the setting sun glaring off the pond can be unbearable – and very warm! This is where plantation shutters come in handy. I moved to the French doors to shutter them and when I glanced out, our visitor was poised and still, silhouetted against the water’s glare in the setting sun. Whatcha lookin’ at, Mr. Visitor?

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“Dinner,” came the reply as he casually speared his. The plump, hapless focus of his attention quivered and then was still.

He swallowed it whole 😯



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(s)Wanderin’ around the Oasis

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The black-necked swan hails from South America and is considered the prettiest of all the varieties of swans in the world.


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Top 5 FUNky Facts About The Roseate Spoonbill

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IMG_2987-WDW-DAK-roseate-spoonbill:) One morning this past March, I found a pair of roseate spoonbills in the Oasis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As I pointed my camera at them, they regarded me with their red-rimmed eyes as though a bit suspicious of the hunk of hardware in my hand (Canon SX110 IS). Today I decided to try and find out a bit more about them, so here are my Top 5 FUNky Facts About The Roseate Spoonbill:

  1. Aside from vultures and raccoons, one of the biggest enemies of a young nestling roseate spoonbill is fire ants!
  2. One of the top places in the United States to observe the roseate spoonbill in its natural habitat is Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, located on Sanibel Island. I’ve seen them feeding there and roosting in Rookery Bay down in Naples, Florida – check out these posts.
  3. The roseate spoonbill sometimes assumes a “wing-lift posture” to dry off its wings, similar to other fishing birds like the anhinga.
  4. I’ve often mistaken the roseate spoonbill for a flamingo when at a distance (and stubbornly not wearing my glasses). However, they’re actually not related at all. They are more closely related to the ibis. Here are some posts about the scarlet ibis (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and the white ibis (Sanibel Island).
  5. The head of the adult roseate spoonbill is sort of green, except when they are breeding – then, it turns a kind of golden color.
  6. The oldest known roseate spoonbill was found in 2006; it had been banded and the band showed it to be 16 years old!

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Random Animal Kingdom trio

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This is the Great Blue Turaco. I heart this bird’s colorful plumage.

RANDOM FACT about the great blue turaco: In the province of Africa formerly known as Zaire, the great blue turaco is hunted for food as well as feathers. Those yellow feathers on the underside of the turaco’s tail are considered good luck. Next time I visit the Pangani Forest Trail, I hope I remember to look around on the ground for a yellow tail feather.


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Here’s a meerkat – for fans of The Lion King, that’s a “Timon”. I like meerkats for the same reason I like prairie dogs and otters – they remind me of cute little puppies.

RANDOM FACT about meerkats: Meerkats are social and live in little colony families. One of them always keeps lookout while the others forage for food.


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Saved the best for last. I stalked this Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly all over creation, it seemed, but only got ONE good shot, and this is it!

RANDOM FACT about swallowtail butterflies: There are over 500 species of swallowtail butterfly that live on every continent of the Earth except Antarctica.

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A Sanibel osprey vogues for me

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IMG_3854-Sanibel-Lighthouse-Beach-OspreyThere’s an osprey nest atop a tall pole at the Sanibel Island Lighthouse Beach. Nearby are the branches of a dead tree which make for a convenient perch for this young osprey. He waits impatiently for a parent to come back with some dinner. While he waits, he whines, much like his human counterparts. Only, he whines on a single note, rapidly and repeatedly. “Where! Is! My! Food! I! Want! To! Eat! Where! Is! My! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! MOM!” If you want to hear what the osprey sounds like, then CLICK HERE for a *.wav file I found (it opened Quicktime in the browser for me). OK, now picture being subjected to that for even two minutes straight while you are trying to shell serenely. Do you not want to run away screaming yourself? 😉

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Since he’d given me his profile in the previous shot, he decided to turn the other way and give me the other side, too. Not sure which I’d classify as his “good side”, but he does seem to be sporting quite the stylin’ cowlick in this one. This is one hawt seahawk! 😉


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And finally we get his very best, “What are YOU lookin’ at?” pose – as though he totally isn’t digging all the attention! I think the only way he’d like it more is if I had a dead fish in my hands instead of a camera!

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Snowbird where are you? Baby in distress!

He fell out of a tree near a mama duck and ducklings. Mama sounded alarm, babies ran behind her. Mama duck pursued, baby bird fluttered across pond, almost drowned!!! I kicked off my shoes, was ready to jump in but he made one, big heroic flutter and made landfall.

Now mama bird has discovered baby is gone, dive-bombs mama duck. i ran and got a CM who got an empty box to capture baby. She got dive-bombed too. Mama bird just won’t let anyone help.

Circle of life…
Sent from my Nokia N97a

Colorful birds from Orlando, Florida

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Probably what makes my Monday Meme Trifecta so much fun is that I never know until the Friday before what sort of prompt Mo is going to serve up for Manic Monday. It’s fun and easy to come up with something for Blue Monday and for Mellow Yellow Monday, but to make it fit with the “Mo factor”, well that takes some strategic maneuvering! 😉

Mo has prompted us with “birds” this week, so without further ado, I bring you two specimens – you guessed it, one blue and one yellow – from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

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I found this little guy in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In the spring of 2004, I was walking the paths in the Pangani Forest and some splashing to the left startled me. There he was, splish-spalsh, takin’ a bath :) I think I’ve blogged this photo before, or one close to it, but no matter – he’s a cute little guy, and I’m happy to have him on the front page again.

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Fast forward to October of 2004. The sun was going down, and it was a bit overcast, too. I was walking that promenade between the fountain and the World Showcase Plaza at EPCOT, and stopped to check out the turtle action in the lagoon. After watching them a while, I looked up and saw an egret hanging out with some moorhens, and then a little further off, this beautiful little blue heron. He stood still just long enough for me to get this one shot, and then he took off into the gathering dusk.

There’s more where that came from – check out My Bird Stuff Store *~*~* for some Disney-related bird stuff!

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The Scarlet Ibis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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The Scarlet Ibis at Disney’s Animal Kingdom



This is the scarlet ibis (pronounced: EYE-bis; click photo to enlarge). A native of South America, the scarlet ibis is also found in Trinidad and Tobago, where it is one of the birds featured on the national coat of arms.

The ibis is a wading bird, and most of them here in Florida are white with a long curving red bill. The presence of the scarlet variety in the wild here in Florida does not necessarily mean migration occurred – as Dr. Jerry Jackson of Florida Gulf Coast University explains, scarlet ibis eggs were brought to Florida and fostered by resident white ibises.

The scarlet ibis pictured above was photographed among a flock of white ibises at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida on 31 October 2004.

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– Readers may remember that I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Jerry Jackson speak during a sunset cruise on Rookery Bay (Naples, Florida) this past spring. I got lots of video with Dr. Jackson speaking in the background. CLICK HERE for the Rookery Bay series of posts.

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The Black Swan – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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The Black Swan at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
After coming through the turnstiles at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you have the opportunity to wander along criss-crossy paths in a shady portion of the park called The Oasis. A waterfall flows into a stream, which babbles along until it empties into a pond. There are ducks, turtles, lizards, wallabies and all manner of water fowl in residence at The Oasis.



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This is a black swan. Its latin name is cygnus atratus, and it is native to the wetlands of southern Australia. He isn’t completely black; you can see white feathers peeking out from beneath the black ones, which are more dramatically visible while the bird is in flight. One of the most interesting things I’ve read about black swans is that their pair-bonding habits present an excellent example of how homosexuality can be an evolutionary advantage! You will just have to Google that now, won’t you? 😀

The black swan always reminds me of figure skating. During the 2000-2001 figure skating season, the incomparable Michelle Kwan used music called Song of the Black Swan by composer Heitor Villa-Lobos for her long program (there are brief clips at that link – it’s #9). There have also been skaters who’ve chosen to portray The Black Swan from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet.

The black swan’s beak is completely bright red in color. You can only see a tiny sliver of it here because he is napping, but if you use Google Images, I’m sure you will find some good examples.

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