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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Beautiful Migrants Headed Your Way!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Red-eyed Vireo

Prothonotary Warbler

Hooded Warbler

Scarlet Tanager, female

Scarlet Tanager, female

Orchard Oriole, female

Happiness is... a Gumbo Limbo tree loaded with fruits at the Sanibel Lighthouse park if you are hungry migrants such as these. These migrants depend on finding food when they arrive in SW FL after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. The fact that Sanibel's code is to keep native vegetation on its properties insures there will be fruit and insects available for migrants and helps conserve these birds. Think of helping both migrant and resident birds on your property by planting plenty of native trees and shrubs. You will be rewarded with the sight of beautiful avian jewels and the birds will thank you. Soon these migrants will be arriving near you! Enjoy them by keeping your binos handy and getting our The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region or Western Region.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Beautiful Black-necked Stilts are Breeding!

Black-necked Stile, male

Black-necked Stilt, female

The Black-necked Stilts are nesting at the Bailey Tract on Sanibel, FL. The female (brown back) took a break from incubating to feed and the male sat on the nest, then the female returned and resumed incubating. These beautiful shorebirds breed in the shallow water of marshes, ponds, fields, and impoundments in coastal areas of some of the eastern half of the country and in some coastal and inland areas of the western half of the country. Even though there are plans to fill in one of the ponds in the Bailey Tract to create more marsh, we hope it it after these wonderful birds are through breeding.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Orchard Oriole Migrants, Nice!

Orchard Oriole, male

Orchard Oriole, male

New migrant yesterday was this beautiful male Orchard Oriole at the Sanibel lighthouse park. On it's way to its breeding range in much of the eastern part of the U.S.except the very upper East. Such a treat, as where I live in NH, it would be rare to see one.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Migrant Warblers, Here they Come and How to Help Them

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Palm Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Migrant Black-and-white Warbler, often thought of as the upside down warbler because of its habit of foraging upside down on tree limbs and trunks (don't try this at home). Palm Warbler with a nice lunch and female Prairie Warbler preening after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. These migrants find a big welcome at the Sanibel lighthouse park, which has ample native vegetation for food and cover. Sanibel's policy is to landscape public places with native vegetation and for homeowner's to keep native vegetation on their property! So, if you want to attract birds to your property and provide for migrants coming though, landscape with native vegetation!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Kentucky Warbler, Yes!

Kentucky Warbler


Today's exciting migrant was this bright yellow Kentucky Warbler, a rare find here and who preferred to forage in dense, dim underbrush. Also this Ovenbird walked in the leaf litter tucked way back in dim light. Finding these birds at the Sanibel lighthouse park and getting everyone on them is a group effort, so thanks to all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Red-eyed Vireos are Migrating!

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Real birds don't pose for minutes nicely in the open at the Sanibel lighthouse park. Hungry migrants that they are, they flutter in the protection of the dense foliage and forage rapidly. This Red-eyed Vireo was a new arrival yesterday. It's a common breeder in mature deciduous woods in mostly the eastern and upper mid-western U.S. and across Canada.You will hear it singing all summer.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Indigo Buntings are Migrating!

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Northern Parula

Indigo Bunting

Bird migration still occurring here in SW FL and lots more to come. Yesterday it was all about Indigo Buntings, many still molting and a few other warblers such as this Northern Parula. Also seen were Hooded Warblers and Prothonotary Warblers. They land in the native vegetation at the Sanibel lighthouse park and feast on the fig fruits, replenishing their reserves after their long journey across the Gulf of Mexico. Soon they will come to you!

Friday, April 06, 2018

Prothonotary Warbler and More Migrants!

Prothonotary Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Here they come! Migrant warblers, vireos, buntings and tanagers flooded into the Sanibel Lighthouse park yesterday all day. These hungry migrants have just crossed the Gulf of Mexico. They land and rapidly search for food. Some of the treats were this Prothonotary Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler. Also seen by us or others were Blue-headed, White-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos, Summer Tanager, Northern Parula, Worm-eating, Hooded and Prairie Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Yellow-billed Cuckoo. More are to come!

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Migrating Birds, Sanibel Lighthouse, Warblers, Kingbird

Hooded Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Gray Kingbird

Bank Swallow

Here are some recent migrants that have come into the Sanibel Lighthouse, FL. Hooded Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Gary Kingbird, Bank Swallow.!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Acrobatic Northern Parula Warbler and Prairie Warblers

Northern Parula

Northern Parula 

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

Several migrant Northern Parulas at the Sanibel lighthouse, FL today, one demonstrating acrobatic foraging and coming up with a juicy prize! You have to admire the ability of this warbler to hang upside down.These migrants are hungry, they have just crossed the Gulf of Mexico!! Also there were several Prairie Warblers. Note the red stripes on the back of one male, not always visible. These warblers will be coming your way soon. For more on how to ID them see our The New Stokes Field Guide To Birds, east or west editions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Shorebirds Getting Pretty, Red Knots and Short-billed Dowitchers

Red Knot and Willets

Red Knots and Willets

Short-billed Dowitchers

Shorebirds getting pretty. Many shorebirds are migrating now and turning into their breeding plumage, such as this Red Knot. The Short-billed Dowitchers are getting darker feathers on their backs. Red Knots migrate to high arctic breeding grounds so national wildlife refuges, like J. N.Ding Darling NWR where I photographed these, are vital places for them to stop and refuel on their long journey!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Feeder Friday: Know Your Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpecker, male at suet.

Hairy Woodpecker, female at hulled sunflower.

Woodpeckers are great feeder birds because they're easy to attract and several species, the Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, live just about all over the country. These two look-alike Woodpeckers are best told apart by size, the Hairy is 9 1/4 inches tall and the Downy is 6 3/4 inches tall. Males of both species have a red patch at the back of the head.

The trick to attracting them is to offer the right food, in the type of feeder that allows them to cling and feed naturally. We find the favorite foods of Downy and Hairy are suet, hulled sunflower, black oil sunflower and other nutmeats like peanuts. In our yard, the two foods they most prefer are suet and hulled sunflower. Suet is a type of beef fat that is rendered (cooked and cooled) and formed into square cakes, often with some seeds or fruit added.

The above Hairy Woodpecker female is on our Stokes Select Sunflower Screen Feeder, a large enough feeder, with good clinging surface, allowing this large woodpecker to hang on and feed on the hulled sunflower. Woodpeckers in the wild like to cling on and hitch around tree trunks and limbs, probing for insect larvae in the bark, so feeders that allow them to hold on in their usual manner are appealing to them. That's not to say they don't come to tube feeders with short perches as well. The smaller Downy Woodpecker masters that a little better in our yard than the larger Hairy Woodpecker.

There are some cool things we like about these woodpeckers. They excavate their own nest holes, the Hairy in live wood the Downy in dead wood. They "drum" (a rapid pounding on a resonate tree or surface), instead of singing, to attract a mate and define a territory. Usually they make "teek" calls as a way of keeping in contact. They live as a pair all year round, on the same territory. Our Hairy Woodpeckers bring their babies to the feeder when they first fledge. The fledgling hangs on the feeder and the adult grabs the food and feeds it to the waiting mouth. Eventually, the young learn on their own and come to the feeders when they are independent.

So, just by offering their favorite foods in the right containers, you can have woodpecker entertainment all year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Warblers are Coming!

Where are the migrants? Hooded Warblers are early migrants and there are lots to soon come. The map shows where they are now. You can see that many Hooded Warblers are still in Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula, getting ready to fly across the Gulf of Mexico to the U.S. Soon they will be coming your way. Can't wait.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Northern Waterthrush ID, here's how!

Northern Waterthrush, one of the early migrant warblers, on Sanibel, FL Pond Apple trail yesterday. I heard it call and photographed it. People get confused about waterthrush ID. Here is why it is a Northern Waterthrush. It is yellowish buff below (Louisiana is cream colored below) with a streaked throat (Louisiana usually does not have streaks on throat) and a evenly colored buff eyebrow (Louisiana has bicolored eyebrow with buff in front and white above and behind the eye). Dark heavy elongated dashes on this bird are arranged into streaks on underparts (Louisiana’s medium brown dashes form blurred loose streaks on underparts). Eyebrow thickness and length not always a reliable clue. The legs were pinkish (Louisiana’s are bubble gum pink) and this bird was bobbing the tail not whole end (Louisiana bobs whole rear end in often a circular motion).
Here is some additional information,
Comparison Tips from our Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America national field guide, page 629.
“Start with shape and behavior. Louisiana is bigger, more elongated, with larger bill; tail extends less past undertail coverts than Northern’s. Louisiana bobs tail (often in a circular manner) and more of rear end than Northern. Northern’s eyebrow solid yellow or solid white; Louisiana’s is bicolored, with buff in front, white above and behind eye. Length and thickness of eyebrows not always a reliable clue, since individual’s vary greatly. Northern’s throat usually with fine streaks; Louisiana’s usually clear white. Northern is white or yellowish buff below with heavy dark streaking, sometimes pale buff-brown on flanks; Louisiana is creamy white below with somewhat paler streaking and yellowish or salmon wash on flanks. Louisiana’s legs are brighter pink than Northern’s. The two species songs are distinct; their call notes are quite similar."

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bringing Spring To You

As our friend said when she saw a photo of our view of palm trees at our Florida home, "you live on a different planet." As northern areas are under a blanket of snow and northern bloggers are keeping warm by the fire and browsing internet garden images, we are in a land that has a different rhythm. The Cardinals in our yard are singing in the Bougainvillea and getting ready to breed.

Gulf Fritillay butterflies are on the wing, nectaring on newly opened wildflowers.

The Red Kapok Tree in a tropical garden here, is in bloom.

But soon the North will change and Yellow-rumped Warblers will return.

Down here they are in small to large flocks and eat insects and berries, getting ready for their journey.

Tree Swallows wintering here by the thousands,

will return to their breeding grounds, bringing spring with them.

So, think spring wherever you are. Keep your feeders full, fresh water in your bird bath, plant red tubular flowers for the hummingbirds, put up some birdhouses, and the birds will come to you!