Category Archives: Birds

Anhinga Drying Off

Anhingas often climb into trees with branches that hang over the pond for drying off. I’ve more frequently seen them down close to the water but this one was over my head giving an interesting view of his very long body.

Anhinga
Anhinga

From this view you can the sharpness of the beak, clearly adapted to spearing fish.

Anhinga
Anhinga

They are often vocal, making a low croaking sound, likened to a frog with a soar throat by Cornell’s All About Birds.

Anhinga
Anhinga

Bringing Home the Fish: Oops!

Usually Anhinga eat the fish they catch while they are swimming, often executing some intricate fish flipping maneuvers to get the fish in position to swallow head first.  Occasionally, I have seen them get out of the water and beat the fish for awhile, although I’m not sure why. The fish looks dead with that sharp beak speared through it. Sometimes it appears the fish is stuck and at this time of year they may be on their way to the nest with it. No matter the reason, it is an activity that comes with risk.

Anhinga Swimming with Fish
Anhinga Swimming with Fish

This Anhinga swam thirty or forty feet to reach an alligator platform, then flapped and pulled himself out of the water.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

Wack, wack, wack the fish.

Anhinga Wacking Fish
Anhinga Wacking Fish

Toss it into position.

Anhinga Tossing Fish
Anhinga Tossing Fish

Over the side it went, never to be seen by this bird again.

Where's My Fish?
Where’s My Fish?

 

Bringing Home the Fish

Anhingas fish by swimming underwater and spearing their prey. They then need to air dry and are often seen with their wings fully spread. This one must have young to feed as he bypassed the usual process.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

After he pulled himself out of the water, he took very little time to dry. He held the fish in his beak and worked his way up the stick.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

Once airborne he had to really work it to get to the island about 50 feet (16 meters) away. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it; twice his wings dipped into the water.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

He did make it, and disappeared into the island underbrush with his catch.

Boat-tailed Grackle

At least I think it is a Boat-tailed Grackle, not a Common Grackle.  This is another pair of birds that All About Birds uses a size comparison to help tell them part. Useful if you see them together, not so much on their own. They did seem to have a big tail.

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle

These images were taken at the pond near the rookery and swamp I frequent. A group of 8 or 10 was working its way along the edge, hopping along limbs that have fallen in the water.

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle

Both kinds are noisy, with constant calling, like their Red-winged Black bird relative.  It was the iridescence that attracted me, and their repeated trips to the water. They will eat frogs, lizards, and turtles and did poke around a little in this water that has all  of these but it was a bit deep for them to jump in.

Boat-tailed Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle

Sandhill Crane

Ted and I returned to Florida for five days at the end of February and went to most of the same places I photographed in late January. On my first trip I heard Sandhill Cranes calling at Vierra Wetlands but never saw them. I was delighted to see a pair on the second trip.

Sandhill Crane Pair
Sandhill Crane Pair

When we first saw the pair they were calling repeatedly and appeared to be looking for something. Unfortunately there was nothing nearby to include in the image to indicate their size. Sandhill Cranes are larger than Great Blue Herons, and can weight up to 10 pounds (4.75 KG). Great Blues top out at 5.5 pounds (2.5 KG).

Sandhill Crane Pair
Sandhill Crane Pair

We looped around the wildlife drive and about an hour later found them in about the same spot. They had stopped calling and their attention had turned to preening.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Click on any image for larger view.

Vierra Wetlands, Florida, 2/21/18.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Looking for Lunch

Looking for something to eat in the crevices of this dead branch this Red-bellied Woodpecker kept trying, but I didn’t see him find anything.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Upside down didn’t work so he flipped upright.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

He paused for a nice profile shot.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Scouting out his next spot, he was gone in a flash.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Click on any photo for larger view.

Northern Pintail

A small group of various ducks and American Coots, about fifty or so, was gathered near the edge of the Black Point Wildlife Drive. They didn’t pay much attention to the birders and photographers that stopped to have a look on this morning.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

This Northern Pintail pair found each other in the group…

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

…then went about their business.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

Some of the pairs took off as others landed, a constant changing of the group throughout the morning.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

This is the closest I’ve seen a Pintail and was delighted to see how gorgeous they are.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 01/28/2018.