The pied-billed grebe is the second smallest grebe found in North America. Only the least grebe, which is only found in Texas and Mexico in North America, is smaller. Grebes are often mistaken for ducks but they differ from ducks in that they have lobed toes instead of webbed feet.
Pie-billed grebes are not strong fliers. They are much more likely to dive under the water than they are to fly away if danger approaches.When the dive under the water they often do so by sinking straight down, much like a submarine, with their head being the last thing to submerge. Under the water they are excellent swimmers. They are able to trap water in their feathers to help control their buoyancy.
Young pied-billed grebes usually leave the nest a day after they hatch. While they are able to swim almost immediately they typically spend most of their first week riding on one of their parents back. Immature grebes are easily identified by the striking feather patterns on their face.
The osprey is a bird that is in a class all its own. Literally, the osprey is the only member of the genus Pandion, which is the only genus in the family Pandionidae. So what makes the Osprey so unique? First off is the fact that they have the ability to rotate one of their toes so that they have two facing forward and two facing back. This adaptation helps them to catch fish, which is their main food source. Most species of owls have this ability but the osprey is the only diurnal raptor, active during the day, that has this unique ability. Their feet also have rough pads on the bottom which helps in grabbing slippery fish.
Even though the osprey is the only member of its family they are not so alone. Osprey can be found on every con tenant in the world except Antarctica. They are found near water where they hunt for fish, often diving up to two feet under the surface. In the Western Hemisphere Osprey breed primarily in northern sections of North America. The breeding range includes most of Canada, the northern United States, and the Pacific Northwest. These birds migrate south to central and South America for the winter, some traveling over 2500 miles each way. Populations in Florida and the Gulf Coast typically are year round residents.
The Nashville warbler is a poorly named new world warbler. Rarely are these birds found near Nashville. They breed primarily in eastern Canada, the northeastern U. S. and northern Great Lakes. They winter in Mexico and northern Central America. In the spring and fall they migrate across the central United States on their way between breeding and wintering grounds. In 1811 Alexander Wilson observed one of these birds near Nashville during migration and subsequently named it the Nashville warbler.
There is separate population of Nashville warblers that breed along the west coast. These birds were once considered a different species called the Calaveras warbler. Even though they look a little different and the western population will wag heir tail while the eastern population do not, the Calaveras is now considered a subspecies of the Nashville.
The marsh wren is found across most of the United States and Mexico. They breed in the northern half of the US and up into Canada. They migrate down to the Gulf Coast and Mexico for the winter. They are most often seen filtering among the reeds and cattails hunting insects and spiders.
Dragonfly families can typically be distinguished by their eyes. All dragonflies have compound eyes but some families of dragonflies have eyes that are separated, like a hammerhead shark, some have large eyes that look almost like a helmet, some have eyes that connect in a single point and look like an infinity symbol. Many of the members of the emerald dragonfly family have emerald eyes. This is the face of a brush-tipped emerald, Somatochlora walshii.
The brush-tipped emerald gets its common name from the hairs on the end of its claspers. It is found in the genus Somatochlora which are the striped emeralds. Most of the Somatachlora are found in bogs and swamps making them more difficult to find. The brush-tipped is smaller than most of the other somatochlora usually under 2 inches which helps to identify it in flight, although some of the more common emeralds are around the same size. They also tend to fly fairly close to the ground rarely going above the six foot level. (Note: This dragonfly was netted and the pics were taken while it was in hand. The dragonfly was then released)