Monday, April 25, 2016

Blue Jay Attacks Red Shouldered Hawk


Close-up look at how a Blue Jay intimidates and then gives chase to a very large Red Shouldered Hawk - the top of the Backyard food chain. The Blue Jays are "Backyard Superheroes" flaring every feather on their body to look big and with their beak held wide open to appear more dangerous they are a sight to behold in slow motion as they attack the hawk - and then give chase! Blue Jays are nesting now and particularly vigilant - they also perform a valuable warning service for all the other Backyard critters - especially the squirrels!

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Blue Jay Attacks Red Shouldered Hawk


Osprey Hunting And Catching Fish



An Osprey hovers high above the marsh in very strong winds looking for a fish to dive on and catch. The first effort comes up empty, but Ospreys don't miss often and a meal is caught next. Also called Fish Eagles, Fish Hawks or Sea Eagles the Osprey lives entirely on fish. The "bent wing" profile is a sure sign you are looking at an Osprey at a distance!

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Osprey Hunting And Catching Fish

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Live - Baby Easterm Screech Owls in Nest Box





The oldest owlet is growing very fast - mother owl will leave briefly around nightfall (~8PM EDT) and we'll see if the third eggs has hatched. If it has not hatched it probably means its not a viable egg. Father owl will have food right at night fall and continue to bring food through the night.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Raccoons Feeding in Swamp


Raccoon's using their incredibly sensitive paws to find bird seed under water in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. This was filmed under a bird feeder hung over the swamp and protected from squirrels and raccoon's - the crafty coons nevertheless found any bird seed that settled to the bottom of the swamp. Raccoon's love the water and swamping areas in particular - just have to watch out for the alligators!


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Raccoons Feeding in Swamp

Cute Young Squirrels Playing


Cute brother and sister gray squirrels have an energetic play session on their oak tree platforms. This is typical playful squirrel activity consisting of soft biting, grooming and wrestling of a non-sexual nature. It will be some month before they are sexually mature, for now its all fun and play and plenty of food!
The three squirrels born in early October and raised in a Woodpecker nest box now live together in the Backyard Oak tree. Their mother has recently passed away. The story of their life in the nest box is at:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9ODW2GQ3n8J5c5QH_0U05TwHnttEBnMW
They have been inseparable since leaving the nest, but it wont be long before they break up and spread out with the young males likely chased off to find new territory, but not very far away in the woods, perhaps only an acre or so away. 

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Cute Young Squirrels Playing


Giant Blooming Spider Lily at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, Florida

 Spider Lily


Photo taken on Janes Memorial Drive.
Hymenocallis latifolia is a Florida native that is popular for its exceptional foliage and snow-white flowers (Fig. 1). This clumping, herbaceous perennial reaches a height of 2 to 3 feet. It has 3-foot-long, dark green, linear leaves that grow directly from an underground bulb. Numerous, white flowers appear above these attractive leaves in the summer and fall. The fragrant, long lasting flowers have a 6-inch-long flower tube with narrow, long, recurving sepals and petals. The upright filaments of these delicate flowers are connected by a gossamer web. Large, ovoid capsules that produce viable seeds appear on this plant after flowering has ceased.


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Cute Baby Alligators


Six cute baby American Alligators relaxing on a log in the Corkscrew Swamp - Mother Gator and another large Alligator are napping nearby - maybe Dad? Newly hatched alligators live in small groups called "pods." Eighty percent of young alligators fall victim to birds and raccoons. Other predators include bobcats, otters, snakes, large bass, and larger alligators. Females aggressively defend their young during these first few years. Crocodilians are unusual among reptiles in providing maternal care to their young. The juveniles grow about a foot a year. Maturity is reached during the sixth year.  Young alligators remain in the area where they are hatched and where they are protected by their mother. After two to three years, they leave that area in search of food, or are driven out by larger alligators.
One interesting aspect of alligator biology is that they undergo periods of dormancy when the weather is cold. They excavate a depression called a “gator hole” along a waterway and use it during dormancy.
In areas where the water level fluctuates, alligators dig themselves into hollows in the mud, which fill with water. These tunnels are often as long as 65 feet (20 m) and provide protection during extreme hot or cold weather. Many other animals also use these burrows after they are abandoned by their creators.

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Cute Baby Alligators


Northern Parula Song


Northern Parula singing in the swamp - a type of Warbler it is a rare bird to get on film on its winter grounds - its loud cheerful call lets you know its near, but getting it on video as it flits rapidly in dense cover is the hard part. 
Filmed at Corksrew Swamp Sanctuary this bird has also been observed in the Backyard in 2014 but without the song - see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zV4GwIZtGo

Northern Parulas breed in mature forests along streams, swamps, and other bottomlands. They're closely associated with epiphytic plants that grow on the branches of canopy trees. In the southern U.S. they use Spanish moss; farther north they use beard moss. Key tree species include water, willow, and swamp chestnut oak, black gum, eastern hemlock, sugar and red maple, birches, and sycamore On its tropical wintering grounds, parulas use many habitat types including fields, pastures, scrub, woodland, and coffee, cacao, and citrus plantations.
Spiders and many kinds of insects, particularly caterpillars. Also eats beetles, moths, ants, wasps, bees, flies, locusts, and others. During the breeding season Northern Parulas also occasionally eat bud scales and on wintering grounds they sometimes eat berries, seeds, or nectar.
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Parula

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Northern Parula Song

Crested Carcara Courtship Display


Audubon's Crested Caracara throws its head back to the extreme in a courtship display - you can see he also make a loud call, but it is so windy it can't be heard. He has a tasty piece of carrion for a gift to the lucky lady (note the bands on both legs), but just as the stage is set for some quality time for this couple a Turkey Vulture arrives  - nothing like a vulture to ruin the ambiance!
Although a majestic member of the falcon family they live mostly off of carrion.
Crested Caracara's are one of the rarest of Florida birds and live year round mostly in central Florida. They are protected as a threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act.
 Life History
The diet of Audubon’s crest caracara primarily consists of carrion (dead animal carcass), amphibians, reptiles, mammals; eggs; and other birds.
Little is known about the reproduction of the caracara.  Eggs from caracaras in Florida have been found from September to April, with the breeding season seeming to peak from January to March.  Nests are constructed with sticks, dry weed stalks, and long and narrow segments of vine.  The average clutch size is two eggs, with juveniles reaching adult size at five weeks of age, and  fledging occurring at seven to eight weeks old . 
Habitat and Distribution

Audubon's crested caracara inhabits wet prairies with cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto).  It may also be found in wooded areas with saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), cypress (Taxodium spp), and scrub oaks (Quercus geminate, Q. minima, Q. pumila) (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, n.d.).  Caracaras will also inhabit pastures (J. Rodgers pers comm. 2011).  Audubon's crested caracara is found throughout south central Florida, and also occurs in Texas, Arkansas, Mexico, Cuba, and Panama .
Threats:
The main threat to the Audubon’s crested caracara is habitat loss.  The main cause of habitat loss includes modification for urban development and agriculture.  Due to its isolation and specific habitat dependence, an environmental catastrophe could cause a significant decline in the caracara’s population.  A disproportionate sex ratio could occur in an environmental catastrophe causing lower reproductive rates (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, n.d.).  Traffic mortality will continue to be a threat to the species as the population of Florida continues to increase and more roads are constructed.  Illegal take from trapping is also a threat to crested caracaras 
http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imp...

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Crested Carcara Courtship Display