Ruddy and Raja Shelducks at Wings of Asia

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) at Wings of Asia by Dan

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) at Wings of Asia by Dan

We enjoyed our latest birdwatching adventure to Zoo Miami. Caught video of the Ruddy Shelducks discussing something. So this time we will share the two species of Shelducks at the Wings of Asia aviary. The Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) and the Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) are members of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae – Ducks, Geese and Swans. They are in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae. There are seven species in the Tadorninae subfamily. Wings of Asia has the Ruddy and Raja Shelducks.

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. (Psalms 104:1 KJV)

The Lord has provided for the Shelducks, as He does for all His critters. They are designed for the conditions they live in, in this case swimming, feeding and migrating, with beaks, feet, wings, and coloration to help them survive.

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) at ZM

Ruddy –  There are very small resident populations of this species in north west Africa and Ethiopia, but the main breeding area of this species is from southeast Europe across central Asia to Southeast Asia. These birds are mostly migratory, wintering in the Indian Subcontinent.

Facts:

  • They are sometimes called Brahminy Ducks.
  • Can be seen in many Zoos in America.
  • In Tibet and Mongolia, Ruddy Shelduck is considered sacred by the Buddhists. It is also a sacred animal in Slavic mythology.

Although becoming quite rare in southeast Europe and southern Spain, the ruddy shelduck is still common across much of its Asian range. It may be this population which gives rise to vagrants as far west as Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland. However, since the European population is declining, it is likely that most occurrences in western Europe in recent decades are escapes or feral birds. Although this bird is observed in the wild from time to time in eastern North America, no evidence of a genuine vagrant has been found.

This is a bird of open country, and it will breed on cliffs, in burrows, tree holes or crevices distant from water, laying 6-16 creamy-white eggs, incubated for 30 days. The both shelduck is usually found in pairs or small groups and rarely forms large flocks. However, moulting and wintering gatherings on chosen lakes or slow rivers can be very large.

The ruddy shelduck is a distinctive species, 22.8-27.5 in (58-70) cm long with a 43-53 in (110–135 cm) wingspan. It has orange-brown body plumage and a paler head. The wings are white with black flight feathers. It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck. The sexes of this striking species are similar, but the male has a black ring at the bottom of the neck in the breeding season summer, and the female often has a white face patch. The call is a loud wild honking.

Not sure what these Ruddy’s were debating about, but it seems the single one lost the discussion and left.

 

 

The ruddy shelduck is a common winter visitor in India. This bird is found in large wetlands, rivers with mud flats and shingle banks. Found in large congregation on lakes and reservoirs. It breeds in high altitude lakes and swamps in Jammu & Kashmir. Arrives in north India by October and departs by April. The genus name Tadorna comes from Celtic roots and means “pied waterfowl”, essentially the same as the English “shelduck”.

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) at Wing of Asia by Dan

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) at Wing of Asia by Dan

Raja Shelduck – The Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah), is a species of shelduck found mostly in New Guinea and Australia, and also on some of the Moluccas. It is known alternatively as the raja shelduck (IOC Name), black-backed shelduck, or in Australia as the Burdekin duck.

The Raja Shelduck forms long-term pair-bonds, and is usually encountered in lone pairs or small flocks. During the wet season the males commonly become very irritable, and have been observed attacking their mates.

The diet consists mainly of mollusks, insects, sedge materials and algae. Pairs start searching for nesting sites during the months of January and February. They nest close to their primary food source, often in the hollow limbs of trees, which makes habitat destruction a particular issue.

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) by Dan at Zoo Miami

Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) by Dan at Zoo Miami

The radjah shelduck does not use nesting materials except for some self-supplied down feathers. Egg-laying is usually done by May or June, but depends on the extent of the wet season. The clutches range from 6 to 12 eggs. Incubation time is about 30 days. (Wikipedia edited)

Here are photos of both Shelducks. Some of the photos are from other trips and some from Ian. (PBZ is Palm Beach Zoo)

 

 

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Kookaburra Encounter

Laughing Kookabura by Dan

Laughing Kookabura by Dan

On our vacation several weeks ago we stopped back by the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida.  I had a neat Kookaburra Encounter.

Lee with Laughing Kookabura at Brevard Zoo by Dan

Lee with Laughing Kookabura at Brevard Zoo by Dan

The Laughing Kookaburra is in the aviary where the Lorikeets, Galahs and other birds are kept. When I came through a door, right there on the rail sat a young Laughing Kookaburra. I have seen them before, but never as close as this one. I got within inches of him/or her. I could have touched it, but was afraid of that beak.

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

Here are some of the pictures we took.

Lee very close to Kookabura by Dan

Lee very close to Kookabura by Dan

I have to admit, I was thrilled. Just looking at one of the Lord’s creations so close. Wow! That one photo Dan took of me and the Kookaburra, my hand was within 5-6 inches from it. May I never lose my AWE at seeing and encountering the Lord’s critters.

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Other Kookaburra encounters:
Birdwatching at the Cincinnati Zoo I
Birds Of The Bible – Joy And Laughter
Birdwatching Adventure to Brevard Zoo in Viera, FL
Birdwatching at the National Aviary – Introduction
Alcedinidae – Kingfishers – Family

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Latest Wood Stork Encounter

Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Lee

Wood Stork at Lake Morton by Lee

I know all the birds of the mountains (and Lake Morton) , And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

We finally had a chance to take a short birdwatching adventure to Lake Morton over in Lakeland. I have been battling a cold and cough for the last three weeks. Our trips to Lake Morton don’t require much walking and it is one of the few places that people feed the birds.

When someone parks their car, before they can get across the street, the birds start walking towards them. Needless to say, the birds are expecting something.

Wood Stork up close by Lee at Lake Morton

Wood Stork up close by Lee at Lake Morton

As I was walking across the street, here they came; Wood Stork in the lead because of its long legs, White Ibises next, followed by the waddling shorter legged birds – Mute Swans, Mallards, Muscovy Duck and then the fly-ins – Boat-tailed Grackles and the Gulls. The Wood Stork met me at the curb.

Of course when you have a treat for them, you become the “Pied Piper.” Apparently, someone must have recently fed them, because they were gathered loosely together. Once I got to the table and sat down, the group gathered around. I was enjoying them so much, I didn’t take many photos then.

White Ibis on Table by Lee

American White Ibis on Table by Lee

Once the food gave out, of which I didn’t have much to begin with, they moseyed off to rest in the shade until the next visitor with a bag of goodies came. One White Ibis hopped upon the table behind me, but too late because the bag was empty. Took its photo, but it was almost too close.

Woodstork & Lee by Dan at Lake Morton

Woodstork & Lee by Dan at Lake Morton

One of the resident Wood Storks walked up in front of me and stood there. I reassured him that I had nothing else, but he (or she) just stayed there. I started talking to it, motioned to come closer, and it did. I could have reached out and touched the Wood Stork, but chose not to with that long beak. Have you ever heard a Wood Stork’s beak “snap” when it grabs food? It is loud. No, I like my fingers!

Wood Stork close-up by Lee at Lake Morton

Wood Stork close-up by Lee at Lake Morton

We sat face to face for about 4 minutes of so; me talking and him just standing there looking at me.

Even though they are “ugly,” they are really neat. Have you ever seen a Wood Stork in the air? They are so beautiful and graceful, but up this close? I assured him that the Lord had created him and that He makes no mistakes.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. (Psalms 147:5 NKJV)

Wood Stork flying over Lake Morton by Lee 2009

Wood Stork flying over Lake Morton by Lee 2009

 The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s? (Job 39:13 NKJV)

Wood Storks belong to the Ciconiidae – Storks Family and are also one of our Birds of the Bible.

Oh, I almost forgot. Since the Wood Stork was so close, I took a close up of its feet.

Wood Stork's Feet by Lee

Wood Stork’s Feet by Lee

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Birdwatching at Circle B Reserve – June 8

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Preening at Circle B

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Preening at Circle B

We took about an hour and a half to check out Circle B Bar Reserve again today. It was partly cloudy and around 81 degrees when we arrived. We managed to see or hear 31 species. Not bad. We had all that rain from Tropical Storm Andrea and thought maybe it would help bring in some birds. It was still pretty dry out there, but the weeds and growth sure had enjoyed all that rain we had.

Since most of our winter birds have left, we were happy with what we saw. Some of the delights and surprises were catching a video of a Carolina Wren singing right in front of us as we got out of the car. Was surprised to see 25 White Pelicans this time of the year. They went by in 3 squadrons.

By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. (Psalms 104:12 NKJV)

Also, finally got a photo of the Tufted Titmouse that I have heard out there but never was able to get a glimpse of. Heading back to the car, a Swallow-tailed Kite flew over. All in all it was great. Now? It has been raining for the last 5 or 6 hours. Good thing we were there early.

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) at Circle B

Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) at Circle B

Species Count
Wood Stork 4
Anhinga 1
American White Pelican 25
Great Blue Heron 2
Great Egret 3
Snowy Egret 1
Tricolored Heron 2
Cattle Egret 10
White Ibis 2
Glossy Ibis 4
Black Vulture 20
Turkey Vulture 5
Osprey 1
Swallow-tailed Kite 1
Bald Eagle 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Common Gallinule 5
Limpkin 2
Sandhill Crane 2
Mourning Dove 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Blue Jay 3
Fish Crow 2
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 1
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 15
Boat-tailed Grackle 20

Update on the eye situation – I got the “All is well” for the 6-months checkup on my retina surgery and now I am scheduled June 19th to see the Eye Doctor who will do the cataract surgery. I am praying that it will be done by the end of the month. It was quite blurry out birding today.

I was using my camera as my eyes. I could tell there was something on a tree, but had no clear idea of what it was until viewed through the viewfinder and with my camera zoomed in. Hey! You do what you have to do to be able to enjoy birdwatching. And I did. The Lord let me see all of these neat birds today.

See:

Birdwatching Trips – Circle B

Wordless Birds

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Birdwatching at the Jacksonville Zoo by Dan’s Pix

 White-collared Kingfisher by Dan's Pix

Collared Kingfisher by Dan’s Pix

As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. (John 21:9-12 KJV)

We went on a trip last year and we stopped by the Jacksonville Zoo on the way. Dan recently posted his favorite photos of the zoo on his webpage, Dan’s Pix. I place my photos up on line right away, but he takes time to get them just right before they are posted. That is why his are so much better and the fact that he uses much better photography gear than I do.

I trust you will enjoy them.

Dan at Work at Jacksonville Zoo

Dan at Work at Jacksonville Zoo

Feel free to check out his other great photos – Dan’s Pix home page.

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Birdwatching at Lake Morton and S. Lake Howard

With all that has been going on lately, we have not had much time or chance to go visit the birds. When Tropical Storm Debby came by, she dropped quite a bit of rain in the area. Some “true” birdwatchers were out and about seeing some really neat birds that were blown off course. We played the “fair weather” birders and stayed indoor where it was dry. Some areas had 12-15 inches, but we had about 6 inches of rain here at the house.

On the 28th we stopped by Lake Morton, in Lakeland, on the way to an errand. We took the cameras and knew the local birds would be there. Not too many surprises other than I counted over 30 Mute Swans. This is even with all the eggs that were stolen from the nests. Also, I found several Wood Ducks swimming around, an immature Wood Stork, and three “Aflac” Mallard Ducks sitting in the shade of a park bench.

On the 2nd, last evening, we took our cameras with us and spent a few minutes taking photos of the flooding at South Lake Howard Nature Park. The water has receded some from earlier. At one point last week, the “island” was under water completely. We saw it then, but didn’t have a camera with us as we drove by.

Decided to share some of the photos of the two visits. We saw – Mute and Black Swans, Wood Ducks and Wood Storks, Mallards, Ospreys, Laughing Gulls, Great Egret, Anhingas, Red-winged and Boat-tailed Blackbirds, Mourning Doves, Rock Pigeons, White Ibises, Great Blue Heron, Limpkins, Muscovy Ducks, Common Gallinules, and heard Monk Parakeets and a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Not bad for about 30 minutes at Morton and 10 minutes at the Nature Park. Some of the photos are just of the water. Trees are standing in water that normally are on dry ground.

He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. (Luke 6:48 KJV)

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All photos are by me. Dan hasn’t showed me his yet. Bummer, his are always better. If you know what kind of Gull that is, leave a comment, please. I think they are young and I am not the best at IDing them.

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Birdwatching at MacDill AFB, May 2012

Dan and Black Skimmers

Dan and Black Skimmers

Today, Dan and I had to run over to Tampa for a couple of errands. We stopped by the MacDill AF Base to see how the birds were faring out on their beach on Tampa Bay. When we were there a month or so ago, there were lots of shorebirds. Since there have been many of reports lately from the Listing Service of migrants passing through the state, we thought we would take a look. Tampa is about 45 miles to the west of us and closer to the Gulf of Mexico. We didn’t have the time to go on over to the gulf.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Our biggest surprise, and the only one, was a pair of Yellow-crowned Night Herons along one of the canals. Down at the beach, we only found the usual Skimmers, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, two kinds of Terns; Royal and Sandwich, Turnstones, Willet, White Ibises, and the proverbial Brown Pelicans flying by in formation. A little disappointing, but enjoyable none the less. Even when I only see one bird, I enjoy my birdwatching adventures. I assume most of the birds have already passed by or they were not in much of a beach mood today.

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Even though few species seen today, aren’t they all amazing to watch? I am always amazed at the variety of birds that we get the pleasures of watching.

Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. (Job 9:10 KJV)

White Ibis

White Ibis

And

Some of the birds at the beach

Some of the birds at the beach Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns and Black Skimmers

I also shot a video of some of the birds at the shore. There are Black Skimmers, which I think are cute walking around, Royal Terns, Sandwich Tern and Laughing Gulls relaxing together.

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One other bird spotted out my back window a few days ago was this House Finch. All winter the normal House Finches and some orange variant ones visited the feeders. This one seems to have combined the two together. Thought it was rather different and wanted to share it. It was shot through the window and screen, so not the best shot.

Interesting House Finch at feeder

Interesting House Finch at feeder

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Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – II

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) by Dan at Zoo Miami

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) by Dan at Zoo Miami

In Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I our trip their was introduced. Now to continue with our adventure there. I am still sorting photos, but I have most of the water birds figured out.

First, here are two quotes about the aviary from Zoo Miami’s website. “Brilliantly colored pheasants, hornbills, pigeons and many other birds show off their shimmering, iridescent plumage in a large, lush free-flight enclosure that provides them with unencumbered flight. Tiny and large birds swoop overhead, perch on branches and even strut and stroll right by visitors. The air is alive with bird activity, beautiful birdsongs, trickling brooks and waterfalls.” They said that so much better than I could, but it is so true.

“The bird collection is quite diverse with rare, colorful species that sing attractive songs and make unusual vocalizations. Some of the birds are cranes, rails, mynahs, parrots, pheasants, thrushes, fruit-pigeons, barbets and woodpeckers. The birds, vastly different in size, range from 10-gram (.35 oz) Japanese white-eyes to 7000-gram (15.4 lb) sarus cranes…  Many of these species are rare in zoo collections, and some can only be seen at Zoo Miami as part of our participation in wildlife conservation breeding initiatives such as the Species Survival Program.”

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Zoo Miami by Lee

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Zoo Miami by Lee

Strut some of them do! I’ll save the cranes for another article, but the Ruddy and Raja Shelducks were strolling all around. The Plumed Whistling Duck was checking out the entry door. Maybe looking for a way out or to see if the next visitors were on the way. Why would he want to leave such a fantastic surrounding?

Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) Zoo Miami by Lee

Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) Zoo Miami by Lee

Just in the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family there were 18 species that we were able to see and photograph. In addition there were 6 members of that family we found around the zoo (Amazon & Beyond and Cloud Forrest). Some we have seen previously, but most were ones not seen by us. Here is a list of those with a link to a photo and a slide show at the bottom. I am starting with these because they are the some of the first you encounter when you enter the aviary. By wandering around on the paths you actually arrive at three different heights with different bird species hanging out. More on that later.

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) Zoo Miami by Lee

Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) Zoo Miami by Lee

The Bar-headed Goose’s picture was selected because of its behavior. I am featuring it because the Bar-headed Goose is thought to be one of the world’s highest flying birds, having been heard flying across Mount Makalu (the fifth highest mountain on earth at 8,481 metres (27,825 ft)) and apparently seen over Mount Everest (8,848 metres (29,029 ft), although this is a second hand report). This incredibly demanding migration has long puzzled physiologists and naturalists: “there must be a good explanation for why the birds fly to the extreme altitudes […] particularly since there are passes through the Himalaya at lower altitudes, and which are used by other migrating bird species” quoted from Black & Tenney (1980). In fact bar-headed geese is now believed that they do take the high passes through the mountains. The challenging northward migration from lowland India to breed in the summer on the Tibetan Plateau is undertaken in stages, with the flight across the Himalaya (from sea-level) being undertaken non-stop in as little as seven hours. Surprisingly, despite predictable tail winds that blow up the Himalayas (in the same direction of travel as the geese), bar-headed geese spurn these winds, waiting for them to die down overnight, when they then undertake the greatest rates of climbing flight ever recorded for a bird, and sustain these climbs rates for hours on end.

The Bar-headed Goose is known to be well equipped for this incredibly challenging migration. It has a slightly larger wing area for its weight than other geese, which is believed to help the goose fly at high altitudes. Studies have found that they breathe more deeply and efficiently under low oxygen conditions. The haemoglobin of their blood has a higher oxygen affinity than that of other geese. Again we see a well designed avian creation by its Creator. The Lord knew the conditions and heights it would need to cross to reach the feeding grounds provided for it.

Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. (Genesis 1:30 NKJV)

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

The Bar-headed Goose migrates over the Himalayas to spend the winter in parts of India (from Assam to as far south as Tamil Nadu. The winter habitat of the Bar-headed Goose is cultivated fields, where it feeds on barley, rice and wheat, and may damage crops. Birds from Kyrgyzstan have been noted to stopover in western Tibet and southern Tajikistan for 20 to 30 days before migrating further south. Some birds may show high wintering site fidelity.

The bird is pale grey and is easily distinguished from any of the other grey geese of the genus Anser by the black bars on its head. It is also much paler than the other geese in this genus. In flight, its call is a typical goose honking. The adult is 71–76 centimetres (28–30 in) and weighs 1.87–3.2 kilograms (4.1–7.1 lb). (Wikipedia)

One more tale to tell. The Common Merganser had just eaten and he started flipping his feet like crazy. He was splashing water everywhere. I suppose he was happy. I finally turned the video on and caught part of it. He even chased the White-headed Duck around.

 

The name in (parenthesis) at the front is the name the zoo uses. I use the I.O.C. World Bird Names here on the blog. These are in taxonomic order.

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) Amazon and Beyond
Plumed Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna eytoni) – Dan’s
(Javan) Lesser Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna javanica) – Dan’s
Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) – Dan’s
Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)
Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) Amazon and Beyond
Raja Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) – Dan’s
Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) – Dan’s
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) – Male – Dan’s
(Pygmy Goose) Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus)
Ringed Teal (Callonetta leucophrys) Male – Female – Dan’s Amazon and Beyond
Bronze-winged Duck (Speculanas specularis) Sign (Saw, but no photo) Amazon and Beyond
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) (Saw, but no photo)
Blue-winged Teal Female (I think) – Dan’s Amazon and Beyond
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) Dan’s
Sunda Teal (Anas gibberifrons)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) (proof)
White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis) Amazon and Beyond
Baikal Teal (Anas formosa)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) – Dan’s
(Common White Eye) Ferruginous (Aythya myroca) – Dan’s
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) Male – Female – Dan’s
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) Male – Female & young – Dan’s
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

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Links:

Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I

Bar-headed Goose – Wikipedia

Zoo Miami – Miami, Florida

Wings of Asia – Aviary

Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans Family

Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia – Wow! – I

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) by Lee

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) Do You See It?

We drove down to Miami this week, 200 miles, went to Zoo Miami twice and drove home. Simple statement, but what we saw was fantastic. Just the ride down allowed us to observe some of our own wildlife. Those highlights were 2 Northern Crested Caracaras (one standing along the road), a Cooper’s Hawk, a Red-shouldered Hawk, several other hawks (unknown) and a Roseate Spoonbill flying by. The rest of the birds were just our normal Grackles, Doves, Egrets, Herons and Crows.

Our goal was to see the Wings of Asia aviary at Zoo Miami or Miami Metro Zoo as I call it. The last time we were there was before Hurricane Andrew destroyed it in the early 1990’s. We lived in Tamarac then and had an annual pass to the zoo. “ Wings of Asia opened in the spring of 2003 and marked the first phase of a 20-year master plan. More than 300 exotic, rare and endangered Asian birds representing over 70 species reside in this Aviary. Covering more than 54,000 square feet, it is the largest open air Asian aviary in the Western Hemisphere.” That number is now around 85 species. About a year or so ago I became aware that the Aviary had been rebuilt and we have been trying to work it out to get there. We finally got there and my description would be, “Wow!”

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) by Lee at Wings of Asia

Do You See It Yet?

All of those 85 species in there are free to fly and or swim around. Many species have 2 or more birds represented by couples, nests and young.

The staff are also very helpful and friendly. After they found out that we were really interested in the birds, they sort of took us “under their wing.” Our special thanks to Dolora, Stacie, Ezekial, Carl and the others.

Where do you begin to tell about the thrill of seeing birds that you have read about, only seen photos of, or never even heard of before? With over 10,000 birds in the world, any time you get to see them for real is exciting, even if they are at the zoo. The birds of Asia and a few from other countries were not just standing there waiting on you to look at them. No, that place is so large that you actually have to do some birdwatching. At times I felt like I was out in the field trying to find the birds. Because of the help from the staff we were able to see many more than we would have on our own.

We were able to see the Cloud Forrest and the Amazon and Beyond small aviaries. More on that later. Overall I took over 1,000 photos and not sure how many Dan took. It is going to take awhile to sort through them and put the right name on the right bird photo. We were extremely tired when we got in last night and so have not started working on them yet.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Wings of Asia

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Wings of Asia by Lee

I did want to share one bird that was on my “most want to see” list. Again, it took the help of the keepers to point it out. I had walked under it several times on Wednesday and never saw it. The Lord has provided the Tawny Frogmouth with a fantastic protection. It looks like the bark on a tree. It also has a very big mouth and hence its “frogmouth” name. They are in the Podargidae – Frogmouth Family which is in the  Caprimulgiformes Order. I was amazed at how large it actually was because it is hard to judge size from photos.

Wikipedia says – The Tawny Frogmouth is often mistaken to be an owl. Many Australians refer to the Tawny Frogmouth by the colloquial names of “Mopoke” or “Morepork”, which usually are common alternative names for the Southern Boobook. Frogmouths are not raptorial birds.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Zoo Miami

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) at Zoo Miami

Males and females look alike and are 35–53 cm (14–21 in) long. This very bulky species can weigh up to 680 grams (1.5 lbs) and, in overweight zoo specimens, up to 1400 grams (3.1 lbs). This species thus reaches the highest weights known in the Caprimulgiformes order. They have yellow eyes and a wide beak topped with a tuft of bristly feathers. They make loud clacking sounds with their beaks and emit a reverberating booming call.

Tawny Frogmouths hunt at night and spend the day roosting on a dead log or tree branch close to the tree trunk. Their camouflage is excellent — staying very still and upright, they look just like part of the branch. When feeling threatened, the Tawny Frogmouth stays perfectly still, with eyes almost shut and with bill pointed straight, relying on camouflage for protection.

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) Tail

Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) Tail

The Tawny Frogmouth is almost exclusively insectivorous, feeding rarely on frogs and other small prey. They catch their prey with their beaks rather than with their talons, another way in which they are different from owls. Owls fly around at night hunting food, but Tawny Frogmouths generally remain sitting very still on a low perch, and wait for food to come to them. They catch prey with their beaks, and sometimes drop from their perch onto the prey on the ground. The bird’s large eyes and excellent hearing aid nocturnal hunting.

Tawny Frogmouths and owls both have anisodactyl feet – meaning that one toe is facing backwards and the other three face forwards. However, owls’ feet are much stronger than the feet of the Tawny Frogmouth as owls use their feet to catch their prey. Owls are also able to swing one of their toes around to the back (with a unique flexible joint) to get a better grip on their prey. Tawny Frogmouths have fairly weak feet as they use their beaks to catch their prey. Owls eat small mammals, like mice and rats, so their bones are shorter and stronger than those of Tawny Frogmouths which usually hunt smaller prey. Tawny Frogmouths typically wait for their prey to come to them, only rarely hunting on the wing like owls.

Breeding – Tawny Frogmouth pairs stay together until one of the pair dies. They breed from August to December. They usually use the same nest each year, and must make repairs to their loose, untidy platforms of sticks. After mating, the female lays two or three eggs onto a lining of green leaves in the nest. Both male and female take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them until they hatch about 25 days later. Both parents help feed the chicks.

I have many more adventures to share from Zoo Miami. Praise the Lord for a great trip to see more of His fantastic Creative Hand in person. Zoos are a favorite of mine along with being in the field birdwatching. The birds that they collect are many times endangered or are being threatened by lost of habitat. One of the commands that the LORD gave man was to be responsible for or have dominion over the birds and other critters. Dominion does not mean be cruel to them but to help them and Zoo are one of those places.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 NKJV)

Links:

Zoo Miami – Miami, Florida

Podargidae – Frogmouth Family

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Birdwatching Trip to Circle B in March 2012

Sandhill Crane Chick at Circle B by Lee

Sandhill Crane Chick at Circle B by Lee

We had not been to Circle B recently, nor especially out to the Marsh by the windmill. Actually the windmill has lost its blades. It is a long trek out there for me, but praise the Lord, one of the workers came along with one of their vehicles and gave us a ride to the marsh. We were greeted by a group photographing Sandhill Cranes with their baby. That would have made the trip worth it alone.

Of course there were other birds awaiting our arrival. It is never boring out there. Since we had parked up by the entrance to get to the marsh, when we got out of the car and were getting our cameras and binoculars, we were greeted by the sound of a Pileated Woodpecker. When we returned, the Pileated showed off and we got some close-up shots of two of them. They were right by the pavilion and didn’t seem to mind those of us nearby.

Great Blue Heron with Catfish at Circle B by Lee - cropped

Great Blue Heron with Catfish at Circle B by Lee - cropped

Another neat observation was the Great Blue Heron that caught a fish, actually a catfish. He was out from the edge a bit, but was able to zoom in on him. Took some video of it trying to kill the fish.

It is still quite dry out there as the rains have not started yet. It has been rather dry this winter. Water levels are still low.

I am including some photos and video taken out at Circle B that day. Video has segment of Great Blue with the Catfish and a close-up of the Pileated Woodpecker. Notice how he uses his tail to support himself.

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3 NKJV)

Here is the list from e-bird for that trip. (37 species total)

6
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
2
Mallard
20
Blue-winged Teal
4
Pied-billed Grebe
5
Double-crested Cormorant
4
Anhinga
2
Great Blue Heron
1
Great Egret
1
Little Blue Heron
2
Tricolored Heron
2
Cattle Egret
7
White Ibis
5
Glossy Ibis
2
Black Vulture
4
Turkey Vulture
5
Osprey
1
Bald Eagle
1
Red-shouldered Hawk
1
American Kestrel
10
Common Gallinule
25
American Coot
3
Limpkin
3
Sandhill Crane
1
Lesser Yellowlegs
1
Laughing Gull
2
Mourning Dove
2
Red-bellied Woodpecker
2
Pileated Woodpecker
1
Blue Jay
4
Tree Swallow
1
Carolina Wren
1
Magnolia Warbler
1
Palm Warbler
1
Savannah Sparrow
1
Northern Cardinal
5
Red-winged Blackbird
10
Boat-tailed Grackle

See more Birdwatching Adventures out at Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland, Florida.

Wordless Birds

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Another Visit To Lowry Park Zoo – March 2012

Demoiselle Crane (Grus virgo) Preening by Lee

Demoiselle Crane Preening by Lee at LPZoo

Dan and I were able to get in a small visit to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa a few days ago. Our goal was to go to the Sulawesi, Free-Flight and the Lorikeet Landing Aviaries. Most of the birds we saw were busy preening that day. Probably the most feather fluffing seen by so many birds on the same day, by us at least. It was difficult to get a good photo of them.

Bornean Orangutan at LPZoo 3-8-12

Bornean Orangutan at LPZoo 3-8-12

Never the less, it is always enjoyable to watch and observe their behaviors. Actually there were a couple of Bornean Orangutans displaying a behavior of covering their heads with cloths that can be quite funny. In the past, we have also seen them use cardboard as coverings.

Bornean Orangutan at LPZoo 3-8-12

Bornean Orangutan at LPZoo 3-8-12

Back to birdwatching. One of the highlights was getting to see the juvenile Sulawesi Hornbill maturing. The beak colors have not started developing yet.

Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus) LPZoo 3-8-12

Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus) LPZoo 3-8-12

“As this youngster ages the colors of the adult will become more pronounced. The Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus), also known as the Sulawesi Tarictic Hornbill, Temminck’s Hornbill or Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill, is a relatively small, approximately 45 cm (17.7 in) long, black hornbill. The male has a yellow face and throat, and black-marked yellowish-horn bill. The female has an all black plumage and a darker bill.

An Indonesian endemic, the Sulawesi Hornbill is distributed in the tropical lowland, swamps and primary forests of Sulawesi and nearby islands, from sea-level to altitude up to 1,100 metres. There are two subspecies of the Sulawesi Hornbill.

The Sulawesi Hornbill is a social species that lives in groups of up to 20 individuals. It is believed that only the dominant pair breeds, while the remaining members of the group act as helpers. The diet consists mainly of fruits, figs and insects. The female seals itself inside a tree hole for egg-laying. During this time, the male and helpers will provide food for the female and the young.” (Wikipedia)

Here is the adult male that was standing nearby the two youngsters.

Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus) LPZoo 3-8-12 by Lee

Sulawesi Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus)LPZoo by Lee

Below are some of the photos taken on this trip to the Zoo. It was another enjoyable day to observe the Lord’s creation up close.

The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. (Psalms 111:2 KJV)

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Birdwatching Trip to Viera Wetlands – February 2-3, 2012

Alligator on bank at Viera Wetlands

Alligator on bank at Viera Wetlands

We enjoyed our visit to Viera Wetlandslast week. Good thing we went then, because we are both sick this week. (Not from the trip.) But we are on the mend. “The wetlands are a popular site for birders, photographers, and eco-tourists.  The entire wetland system is accessible by automobile, making the site popular among those who find the rigors of hiking trails and summer temperatures daunting.  Even better, viewing the site from one’s automobile serves to screen visitors from birds and widlife, enhancing the experience.” They have 4 Cells and a Lake which have a berm around them. You drive on the berm and that gets you right up to the birds. (If they cooperate)

This was not our first visit to the wetlands, but it is 100 miles from home, so it is not something we do frequently. Other than a few different birds we have almost the same ones right here at the Circle B Bar Reserve (only 4 miles from home).

Here is a list of the birds turned in to eBird for the two days we visited the wetlands:

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) with Hood up by Lee

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) with Hood up

Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Hooded Merganser
Pied-billed Grebe
Wood Stork
Double-crested Cormorant
Anhinga Viera Wetlands
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
White Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Northern Harrier
Crested Caracara

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) by Lee at Viera Wetlands

Common Gallinule
American Coot
Limpkin
Sandhill Crane
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Belted Kingfisher
Fish Crow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
House Wren
European Starling
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Boat-tailed Grackle

39 total birds seen that I can identify. If I include the rest of the birds spotted there in Brevard County including the wild birds at the Zoo and Beach, then the count goes to 52. The additional birds include the Brown Pelican, Black and Turkey Vultures, Red-shouldered Hawk, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers, Pine Warbler, Northern Cardinal and Brown-headed Cowbird. Other than the Caracara, Sanderling, and Ruddy Turnstone, I have seen the rest in Polk County, where we live.

Does that mean, I wouldn’t go back, NO WAY! I love going over there to the Wetlands because every time you go, there are different birds waiting for you to discover them. That is what birdwatching is all about. Also, Brevard County has the Merritt Island Wild Life Refuge and other great birding places.

There had to be well over 1,000 American Coots out there. What amazed me was how they would all huddle together in long streams of them. This was just one of the smaller groups. Some were hundred of Coots long.

American Coots at Viera Wetlands

American Coots at Viera Wetlands

I am not sure what this Coot did, but it appears the Northern Shovelers are escorting him out of their area.

Coot Surrounded by Shovelers at Viera Wetlands

Coot Surrounded by Shovelers at Viera Wetlands

Managed to get a close-up of a Boat-tailed Grackle sitting on a sign.

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) at Viera by Lee

Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) at Viera by Lee

It seemed a little dryer than on previous visits. Looks like they could use some rain. It does make an effect on what birds are present by the water levels. Was a great visit.

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

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