Here is wishing everyone a happy Earth Day on this the 10th anniversary of the Ecobirder blog.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
The Florida Scrub-jay is a rather unique bird. This member of the Corvidae family is found only in central Florida. It is the only bird that is endemic to Florida and one of only 15 bird species that are endemic to the U.S. At one time they were considered the same species as the western scrub-jay but scientific study showed that they were genetically different enough to be identified as a separate species. They live, as family groups, in Florida scrub habitat. Unfortunately as this type of habitat has given way to development their numbers have dwindled. In 1975 it was listed as a threatened species in Florida and in the 1990's it was estimated that their were only 4000 pairs left in the wild. Because they are a member of the Corvidae family they are fairly intelligent. I photographed this bird at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Double-crested cormorants are found through out much of North America. They are usually found in fresh or salt water habitats where they hunt fish by diving under the water. They are great swimmers, partially because they do not produce preening oils like most other waterfowl. These oils help birds like geese and ducks keep their feathers waterproof. With out these oils the cormorants feathers can get wet, which makes them less buoyant. Having less buoyancy helps them swim better underwater than many other species of waterfowl. Unfortunately it means that they have to dry themselves off by holding their wings out in the sun in order to make themselves light enough to fly. In most places that I have traveled cormorants are quite skittish but things are quite different in south Florida. It was not uncommon to see cormorants perched on the boardwalk rails at locations like Green Cay Nature Center.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Black Vultures are one of two vulture species found in North America. In the U.S. they range primarily in the southeast, although their range extends down through Mexico, Central America and through most of South America. Black Vultures do not have the olfactory sensitivity of Turkey Vultures so they often find food by following their cousins. Since the Black Vulture is smaller they have a hard time taking food from the larger Turkey Vulture but since they are more communal, than their cousins, they often make up for their lack in size with force of numbers.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Anhingas are a waterfowl that is found primarily around fresh water swamps and marshes. In the U.S. they breed around the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, with he populations in Florida staying year round. They are more common in the coastal areas of Mexico and Central America as well as the northeastern half of South America. Their primary food source is fish, which they hunt by swimming under the water and stalking their prey though the aquatic vegetation and then stabbing them with their pointy beaks.Unfortunately anhingas do not produce the oils that ducks and other waterfowls use to waterproof their feathers, so after each swim the anhinga will look for a safe place where they can perch with their wings stretched out so that their feathers can dry. I took this photo at the Everglades National Park in south Florida.