Colonial Period..re-established

     We all know this nation was born from thirteen original colonies. My own ancestry predates most of these to one of the original Pilgrim families from the Mayflower (Gov William Bradford). This week exciting news was received at Huguenot Memorial Park. One of the stops on the Great Florida Birding Trail, Huguenot Memorial Park is a long-established nesting dune site for shorebirds such as Plovers, Royal Terns and Laughing gulls. A nesting colony of Brown Pelicans have established themselves in the dunes for the first time and will soon hatch some young.

     The Brown Pelican of the Atlantic and Southern East Coast has a brown pouch while its Pacific cousin sports a reddish colored one. Pelicans incubate their eggs with the skin of their feet, literally standing on them. Use of pesticides such as DDT caused the egg shells to become thin and break nearly exterminating this species. They are making a strong comeback and the new colony on Huguenot Memorial Park will now add to their growing numbers. These first photos of the new colony are yours to share and in the coming weeks we will watch them become full -fledged “colonist”.

     Brown Pelicans glide low over the water and often fly in "V-formations" like strange looking alien spacecraft. They plunge dive into the ocean head first and scoop up fish in their pouches before swallowing them. Gulls often try to steal the fish right out of their mouths, sometimes becoming a snack themselves.  The oldest Brown Pelican of record was 43 years old. Adult breeding Brown Pelicans have a brown stripe on the back of the neck. Males are slightly larger in size but otherwise identical looking to the females. 

     In the coming weeks we will watch them grow along with the other shorebirds of the Park. I think I will name one of them “Bradford” after my Pilgrim ancestor. Blessings. 

Eastern Brown Pelican in breeding coloration with rich brown stripe on the neck..Males are slightly larger than females

Non Breeding Adult Eastern Brown Pelican, 

Brown Pelican gathering grass and sticks for nesting material in the dunes of Huguenot Memorial Park, a new nesting colony  for the park

Brown Pelican bringing nesting material to the nest site

A large colony of Brown Pelicans have established a nesting colony in the dunes..space is at a premium and shared with the Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns..

  Royal Terns exhibiting mating and strutting posture reflect in the wet beach sand

Royal Terns exhibiting mating and strutting posture reflect in the wet beach sand

Royal Tern bringing minnow snack back to the nesting site

Crow with Laughing Gull egg....they rob any unattended nest and eat the egg. The dune Colony life is precarious

Laughing Gulls with recently hatched chicks

Oystercatcher with one of two day old chicks...

Eyes Right!...Great Egret checks out the local fishermen...

Great Blue Heron standing tall..

The Bluebird Chronicles

     Summer is officially a few days away, but the heat and humidity are already here. Two of the approximately 20 million Eastern Bluebird population are nesting in my backyard Bluebird box and are on brood number two. The marsh birds are still few and far between so with coffee in hand I begin to chronicle this colorful little thrush.

     A clutch of five pale blue eggs lined the nest a few weeks ago. Recently the Editor and I took a quick peek by lifting the blue bird box access while the parents were away getting bugs.  Four gray fuzzy headed hatchlings were snug in the nest. Their eyes were still closed. From the privacy of my bird blind I then observed the parents bringing a multitude of insects and grubs to the nest. One of the parents will then do the “Pooh duty” carrying out the doo-doo. I placed a perch stick on top of the nest.  The bright blue feathered male loves to sit there with bug in mouth while its mate is in the box feeding the hatchlings. He then enters the nest and provides his snacks to the hungry beaks before doing his cleaning duties. The hatchlings should fledge soon and hopefully I will capture the event. Fast forward seven days. I looked out the back window and saw a small bird clinging to the screen porch. One of the bluebirds had fledged and was afraid to let go of the screen. The parents kept flying near and coaxed it into the nearby oak tree finally. By the next day all four of them had fledged.   Can't thing of a better way to celebrate Fathers Day than watching this Bluebird daddy see his young ones fly. Bye Bye Bluebirds.

     Bluebirds and babies make me smile. With all the negative news around, we all need something to smile about. Life is a gift to be enjoyed. I see your cheeks turning up right now. Smile. Blessings.

Male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast

"Blue tinges in the wings and tail give the grayer females an elegant look."

Four fuzzy gray heads with their eyes still closed were in the nest when we sneaked a quick peek 4 Jun 18.

Blue Angel delivering food to the babes..

A flash of brilliant Blue wings after bug delivery..

Is the coast clear.?..hmmm I see you Mr Doohickey!

I think I will put this Pooh in Mr Doohikeys bird blind...

Daddy Bluebird is always on watch and providing for the babes..Just like our heavenly Father does..

On 12 June I noticed a little bird clinging to the back porch screen

The approximately 50 foot flight to the screen petrified the little bluebird. 

Daddy Bluebird was frantic, flying from the nest to the roof of the porch..

Come on baby birdie, let's fly

Finally we had lift off and away they flew...Bye Bye Bluebirds..Godspeed and blessings!

 

Who dat?

     Summer days are just around the corner. Subtropical Storm Alberto has come and gone with more storms to come.  Recently tried out my Barred Owl “Ibird app” connected to a Bluetooth speaker. A pair of Barred Owls have been seen in the area and I hoped to call them in for photo op. Got more than I bargained for.

     Barred Owls usually stay within a six-mile radius.  I was looking in the school yard trees where they used to be only to walk home and find them in my front yard. With a familiar “Who, Who, Who cooks for you” call, I looked up to see not only one owl but three looking down at me! A mother and two fledglings were in my oak tree The two owlets were sitting on a branch bobbing their heads looking at me and wondering “Who Dat” with the big Doohickey thing. Later I called the male out of hiding too. The large brown eyes of the two fledglings were mesmerizing. I am fairly confident this is the same mating pair that has been in the area for several years. I named the owlets Fuzzy and Wuzzy. Although I tried again to call them, they never returned to my tree. The bird rookery at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine is also still full of young egrets and herons and other hatchlings too. Hope you enjoy them too. 

     Shorebird nesting season has also begun, and I am starting my summer bird stewarding duties twice a week. My main duty will be to keep the rednecks from driving on the beach where the baby birds are and try to educate beachgoers on the nesting shorebirds. Hope you all have a wonderful summer too! 

Female Barred Owl photo from a few years ago I called into the front yard..decided to try again

I do believe this is the same female looking at me from my oak tree..

My, what big brown eyes you have there...

We see you Mr Doohickey...hooted Fuzzy and sibling Wuzzy..

Another pair of siblings argue over who Mom likes the best..Great Egret hatchlings..

Cattle Egret male in breeding plumage..nice hair feathers!

Snowy Egret breeding display

Tricolored Heron in breeding plumage...geesh and me ready for Medicare...birds got it made..

Roseate Spoonbill on the Broward with a fish snack..

Fix It Upper...the finale

     With humidity and temperature in the 90s there is a rush of snowbirds heading north to escape the hot summer weather. No, these are not the type of birds with feathers, these have no wings and fly in formation in RVs towing vehicles.  The only rush I am doing is getting the coffee maker going before the Editor arises, so we can enjoy the coming day with a freshly brewed cup of joe. Then it is off to see the “grand-peckers” at the end of the driveway, lil Pete and Polly.

     Each day brings anticipation and anxiety. If I don’t see both of them I begin to worry at times. Chipper and JoJo are watchful parents. If another bird lands near they are quick to chase them away. Polly is a real pig at times, she seems to get the most food and is always hogging the opening. Should have named her Miss Piggy. Poor lil Pete often has to wait till seconds come along. And indeed, they do. Baby birds grow so fast, in just two days’ time you can hardly recognize them from the days before. On 28 May I observed the two hatchlings getting fed with some berries of some sort. It rained the next day and on the 30th was the last I saw the siblings. The next day Polly was nowhere to be seen. I am pretty confident she fledged as she was fully feathered and nearly as big as the adults. Pete then seemed reluctant to leave at first. Both parents would call from nearby trees and branches trying to entice Pete out of his secure dwelling he called home. He just wanted more food. Unlike Eagles and owls, I did not observe any branching (IE hopping from branch to branch and testing wings). In a few days, he too was gone.

     As I passed my recent milestone to Medicare age, Pete and Polly passed to fully fledged Pileated Woodpeckers. JoJo and Chipper did their God given duty and another generation came forth. Hope you enjoyed the show. Blessings.

JoJo and two hatchlings...Polly and Pete

One day later...two hungry beaks beg for more

JoJo feeding Pete (with red cheek) and Polly two days later

Chipper keeps a watchful eye on the nesting site and family

Should have named her Miss Piggy instead of Polly, she hogs the opening and food

Breakfast bugs again...Pete gets some seconds finally

Family Photo 23 May 18. Photo courtesy of my friend Deborah J Rehnstrom with permission

Polly has grown fast..

Polly getting fed again...

A Red-bellied Woodpecker stops by but is quickly chased away..

This little Downy woodpecker tries to steal some bugs too..

Pete wants some food too! Finally

Chipper and Pete,,,a chip off the ole block..

Pete and Polly 28 May 18

30 May 18...last photo of the siblings together..Polly was gone the next day, believe she fledged.

JoJo and Chipper begin calling Pete from nearby branches and trees  to come out of the nest and fly too!

Pete prepares to fly....and then he was gone...

Polly and Pete have fledged....they are free as a butterfly ...Well Done JoJo and Chipper!

email: selsorhd@me.com

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