Friday, April 18, 2014

Great Crested Flycatcher Mating Pair



Pair of Great Crested Flycatchers thinking of nesting in the Backyard. These birds, which are very rare visitors to the Backyard, excite me! They always announce their presence with a loud single whistle and I start looking for them. These two mated as I watched - I did not get that on video :-(   But they hung around quite awhile after I got the camera. There is a vacancy in the Woodpecker nest box and they are looking hard. Notice how they use their tail as a brace just like a Woodpecker. I can only hope they move in.
Update: They have committed to making a nest in one of the owl boxes - more to come!

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Great Crested Flycatcher Mating Pair


Catbird and Blue Jay Friends



My efforts to befriend a Gray Catbird had it at arm's length, but my old Blue Jay Buddy would have none of that. These two birds really show their emotions in their eyes and are obviously extremely intelligent!
For background on my Blue Jay friend see:

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cedar Waxwings Feasting on Loquats



Cedar Waxwings feasting on Loquat fruit. As they migrate north the Backyard fruit trees makes for a nice rest stop. And just when I thought they could not get more ravenous - one manages to make a fruit juice mess on its beautiful velvety feathers while chasing away all others!

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Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing




Monday, April 14, 2014

Green Anole Lizards Mating and Changing Color



Lizard love is in the air. Mating between Native Green Anole Lizards takes a long time - on the order of 30 minutes. It took five minutes for the male to realize he was on a brown fence :-)  Watch him turn from bright green to dark brown! Green Anole Lizards are not chameleons, but they have the ability to change from brilliant green to darkest brown.  I have not seen this many Green Anole's around for many years - perhaps they are making a comeback against the invasive Brown Anole Lizards from the south! They are attractive little lizards with textured bright green and turquoise eyes! 

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Green Anole Lizards Mating and Changing Color

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cedar Waxwings Feasting on Loquat Fruit



Lovely Cedar Waxwings feasting on Loquat fruit, not the best table manners, but they do love to eat! A flock of about 30 of them descended on the Backyard Loquat trees to feed on their way north for the summer. These birds do not stay in our area of Florida they just pass through. Always exciting when they do stop by as their migration coincides with Loquat ripening. A great backyard bird tree!

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Cedar Waxwings Feasting on Loquat Fruit

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cute Baby Rats Sleeping in an Owl Nest Box



These cute baby woodland rats picked the wrong place to move in to. They don't appear to particular about their sleeping arrangements. There appears to be 4 or five of them on top of each other. They are mostly nocturnal - sleeping in the day and active at night. I waited until they left for the night and then relocated the nest box to a better location away from the deep woods. Although Screech Owl will eat baby rats, full grown rats are too dangerous and more the prey of much larger Great Horned Owls, hawks and other predators. These woodland rats do not get that large and have a very high mortality rate - about 97% die in their first year. Rats in the wild perform a valuable service as part of the balance of nature - but for successful owl breeding the nest box needs to be put in a place they can't get at. A Screech Owl would simply avoid a nest box full of rats.

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Cute Baby Rats Sleeping in an Owl Nest Box



Red Shouldered Hawk



Red Shouldered Hawk looking for a meal in the backyard. This is why mother Screech Owl never leaves the nest box in daylight! The hawk seems totally unconcerned that I'm staring at it, although I'm no doubt cramping its style. A little shaky do to capture with a handheld point and shoot camera. 

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Red Shouldered Hawk

Pileated Woodpecker Visits the Backyard !



A big Pileated Woodpecker stopping by the Backyard for a quick meal is always exciting! Camera work a little shaky at long range through the glass this time. I purposely let the long leaf pine tree that was blown down in a hurricane back in 2005 remain leaning on the backyard fence. It is now infested with bugs under the bark and starting to decay and should be a real magnet for woodpeckers etc. in the future. I'm going to set up the game camera there and see what i capture on film!

To see a real close up of a Pileated making amazing calls from last year about this same time check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glGpBragTs8





Pileated Woodpecker


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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eastern Screech Owl Abandons Nest Box With Three Eggs



Mother Screech Owl looks sad and tired as I take her last picture before she abandoned the nest box. You can hear her beautiful and soulful voice at:
Not exactly sure what happened, but the male stopped bringing food and as a result she left the eggs alone for well over three hours after dusk in 50 degree temperatures for two nights - after that she ceased incubating. She stayed in the nest box during the day for another week and then left overnight on April 6th.
I look forward to seeing her next year and hearing the amazing sounds of the Eastern Screech Owl in the woods.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Great Crested Flycatcher Calls



The Great Crested Flycatcher distinctive call lets you know its making a very rare appearance in the Backyard - just once a year for a few days in April as it is migrating northward for the summer and then is gone. You can hear it's unique call, but its hard to find - and harder to film as it usually stays high in the trees as in this case! There are light calls of a  single "weep" three times - one is real weak, but you can see the beak move and then a harsher fives repetitions of "breep". These are about the same as the recordings on the Cornell site: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/great_crested_flycatcher/sounds
What usually catches my attention is a louder whistle "weep" and then I start looking around, I only got a brief glimpse of a Great Crested Flycatcher last year around this same time.

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Great Crested Flycatcher Calls