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Friday, February 28, 2014

Mangove Cuckoo Magic, Ding Darling NWR 2/28/14

Mangrove Cuckoo which we were lucky to see today in J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Note the yellow orbital ring, curved bill and yellow lower mandible.

Note the long tail with bold white tips to feathers.

Mangrove Cuckoos are secretive and often stay quietly sitting in the mangroves.

Here's another view of the remarkable tail.

We led a Stokes Birding Tour as a fundraiser for the refuge and had the refuge to ourselves as it took place on friday, a day the refuge is closed to visitors.

We were able to see the cuckoo because we ran into the Mangrove Cuckoo research team of Rachel Frieze and her husband, Steve, from the Ecostudies Institute and they were observing this cuckoo. 

Don and I led a Stokes Birding Tour as a special fundraiser for J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge and our whole group got to see a Mangrove Cuckoo, the holy grail bird of southern Florida and on every serious birders want list who visits here. We took two trams through the refuge on friday (when the refuge is closed) and saw wonderful birds. How lucky for us that we ran into Rachel and Steve, who are researching Mangrove Cuckoos in the refuge, and they had one in view!! What a thrill for all of us!
There is still lots to learn about Mangrove Cuckoos, who are very secretive and uncommon and exist in the U.S. in mangrove habitat only in southern Florida. Ecostudies has been studying the life history and ecology of Mangrove Cuckoos in this refuge since 2012. They track the cuckoos during the year to understand their seasonal movements and habitat requirements. It is important to learn about this since the Mangrove Cuckoo population in southwest Florida has been declining.
You can help support the Mangrove Cuckoo research by making donations through the Ding Darling Wildlife Society (who helps support the cuckoo research) and earmark the donations for the Mangrove Cuckoo research.
Thank you all for coming on our Stokes Birding Tour!
I took all these photos with my Canon SX 50!
(FYI, it is not legal to play tapes in Ding Darling NWR in order to lure out birds.)
Lillian Stokes

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

White-crowned Pigeon, Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, FL

White-crowned Pigeon at Ding Darling NWR, on the Shell Mound Trail, when sun came out.

White-crowned Pigeon


This afternoon we saw a White-crowned Pigeon on the Shell Mound Trail at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This is a very unusual bird for here, although there have been a very few sightings previously on Sanibel. Their status is listed as Threatened in FL. They live in the very southern tip of FL. Research has indicated that the total distribution of this bird occurs in the Caribbean Basin, the Bahamas and extreme southern Florida, but they make long over-water flights between breeding and wintering areas within this region. They are threatened due to loss of habitat and hunting and poaching in their range. White-crowned Pigeons feed mainly on fruits of hardwood trees and they are an important dispersal agent for these trees. It was nice to see this bird on the Shell Mound trail, which had a lot of fruiting hardwood trees, thus providing the type of habitat crucial for this bird species. What a special bird for us to see!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bald Eagle Attacked by Red-shouldered Hawk

This young Bald Eagle (2nd yr.) was sitting in a large tree near our Sanibel, FL backyard, minding its own business.

When all of a sudden this Red-shouldered Hawk flies right at it and the Bald Eagle opens its wings

and decides to get out of there. The Red-shouldered Hawk is about to attack it.

Looks like a mid-air collision. The Bald Eagle continued to fly off and the Red-shouldered Hawk left. This Red-shouldered Hawk is nesting near where the eagle was sitting and it decided it was not going to tolerate the eagle, at least not today. Lucky I had my camera (Canon 1D Mark IV) nearby.

Friday, February 14, 2014