FLORIDA POND-SHORE REPORT, PART 3

FLORIDA POND-SHORE REPORT, PART 3

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

He hath made everything beautiful in his time….

(Ecclesiastes 3:11a)

BLUE JAY (photo credit: Rob Hanson/ Wikipedia)

As reported in 2 recent blogposts   —  ( see https://leesbird.com/2023/01/20/florida-pond-shore-report-part-1/  and https://leesbird.com/2023/01/23/florida-pond-shore-report-part-2/ )  —  the pond-shore birds were plentiful (except not ducks, for some odd reasons) in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the home of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel, on the morning of Monday, January 16th (A.D.2023, as Chaplain Bob and I sat in lawn chairs in the Webels’ backyard that adjoins the pond-shore (of what Floridians call a “lake”), drinking our coffee (and eating toasted rye bread). 

In that prior-reported blogposts I described reported (in Part 1) seeing Bald Eagle, White Ibis, and Common Grackle, as well as seeing (in Part 2) Great Blue Heron, Great White Egret, and Double-crested Cormorant.

In this report (Part 3) the birds to be featured are Snowy Egret, Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, and Blue Jay.

SNOWY EGRET in St. Petersburg  (Joan and Dan’s Birding Blog image, q.v.)

SNOWY EGRET.  The Snowy Egret has previously been described on this blog by ornithologist Lee Dusing, documenting this splendidly plumed wader (seen in St. Petersburg), in her blogpost “Walking Snowy Egret Showing Off Yellow Feet”, posted  at https://leesbird.com/2019/01/04/walking-snowy-egret-showing-off-yellow-feet/ , on January 4th of A.D.2019, — as well as in “’E’ is for Egrets and Emus: ‘E Birds’, Part 2” (posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/11/08/eis-for-egrets-and-emus-e-birds-part-2/ , on November 11th of AD2018).   Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) are reported to hybridize with Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), according to Eugene M. McCarthy, HANDBOOK OF AVIAN HYBRIDS FO THE WORLD (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006), pages 189-191.  The Snowy Egret, as a member of the “heron-egret” subfamily Ardeinae, is a distant “cousin” to the Great White Egret that is described in “Egret Feathers, Worth More than Gold!” (posted at https://leesbird.com/2018/08/17/egret-feathers-worth-more-than-gold/ , dated August 17th of AD2018).

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD    ( U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service image / Wikipedia, q.v.)

MOCKINGBIRD.  The Northern Mockingbird (whose ability to “mock” the vocal sounds of others, reminding us of the wisdom in Ecclesiastes 10:20) has previously been described on this birdwatching blog  –  see “Mockingbirds: Versatile Voices in Plain Plumage”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2017/08/16/mockingbirds-versatile-voices-in-plain-plumage/  (on August 16th of AD2016).  See also ornithologist Lee Dusing’s video-enhanced blogpost (“Northern Mockingbird”), posted March 19th of AD2009, at https://leesbird.com/2009/03/19/northern-mockingbird/ , citing the Peterson Field Guide Video Series, q.v., at https://www.youtube.com/user/petersonfieldguides .

MOURNING DOVE, ( Don BeBold image / Wikipedia, q.v.)

MOURNING DOVE.  The Mourning Dove has previously been described on this birdwatching blog  –  see “The Ghost Army – Repost”, posted November 2nd of AD2015, at https://leesbird.com/2015/11/02/the-ghost-army-repost/  —  citing https://www.icr.org/article/8990 (from the November AD2015 issue of ACTS & FACTS magazine), — as well as in “Pond-side Birdwatching in Florida, Part III”, posted March 5th of AD2015 (at https://leesbird.com/2015/03/05/pond-side-birdwatching-in-florida-iii/ ).  See also ornithologist Lee Dusing’s interesting report on doves in her blogpost “Birds of the Bible:  Dove and Turtledove”, posted May 16th of AD2008 (at https://leesbird.com/2008/05/16/birds-of-the-bible-dove-and-turtle-dove/ ), noting that our Mourning Dove matches the prophet’s lamentation in Isaiah 38:14.  Of course, just because you hear mourning-like cooing—that sounds like a dove—it might be another bird!  (See “So, Who Coos from the Rooftop?” — posted June 9th of AD2022, at https://leesbird.com/2022/06/09/so-who-coos-from-the-rooftop/ ), noting that Roadrunners can make sounds like those of Mourning Doves!  Amazing!

BLUE JAY (John James Audubon painting, ~AD1830s / public domain)

BLUE JAY.  The Blue Jay, which can be a neighborhood bully, has been described on this birding blog  –  see “Bird Brains, Amazing Evidence of God’s Genius”, posted on March 7th of AD2013 (at https://leesbird.com/2013/03/07/48484/ ).  When ranges overlap, such as in Rocky Mountain states, Blue Jays sometimes hybridize with Steller’s Jays — see “Jaybirds Mix It Up in Colorado”, posted on November 12th of AD2018 (at  https://leesbird.com/2018/11/12/jaybirds-mix-it-up-in-colorado/ ). The behavioral habits of Blue Jays, which include eating sunflower seeds, are noted within the poetic blogpost titled “Here’s Seed for Thought”, posted on July 4th of AD2015 (at https://leesbird.com/2015/07/04/heres-seed-for-thought/ ).  Another jaybird adventure that comes to mind is the birdwatching joy (on July 7th of AD2006, with my wife, while approaching a rural restaurant) of seeing a Eurasian Jay in a wooded field outside of Porvoo, Finland – see  “Eurasian Jay: ‘Jay of the Oaks’ Admired in Finland”, posted on October 10th of AD2016 (at https://leesbird.com/2016/10/10/eurasian-jay-jay-of-the-oaks-admired-in-finland/  ). Truly amazing!

WEBELS’ BACKYARD BIRDWATCHING    (Marcia Webel photo, AD2016)

Meanwhile, the other pond-shore visiting birds  —  i.e., Florida Gallinule (a/k/a Common Moorhen), Anhinga (a/k/a Snakebird), Tufted Titmouse, Limpkin, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Muscovy Duck (the last being seen on grass of neighbor’s front-yard)  —   on the morning of Monday, January 16th of A.D.2023), must wait for another day to be reported here, Deo volente.  Thank the Lord for such good memories!

Also, thanks be unto the LORD for His creative and artistic bioengineering as our great Creator, including His Creatorship as exhibited in His making of Snowy Egrets (like the one below shown) and of all of Earth’s other magnificent birds!

><> JJSJ profjjsj@aol.com

SNOWY EGRET   (Rich Vial / Clearly Confused Blog photo credit)

So, Who Coos From The Rooftop?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

So, who coos from the rooftop?

Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove; mine eyes fail with looking upward; O LORD, I am oppressed — undertake for me. 

(Isaiah 38:14)

On Tuesday afternoon, earlier this week, after commuting home from work, I parked my van in front of my house, preparing to enter my home at the end of a tumultuous day.  But, as I walked from the driveway toward my front door, I heard a strange-sounding bird, emitting a repetition of low-moaning-like noises, like a somewhat-sick dove might sound as it tried to “coo” (which is why some doves are called “mourning doves”).  As I looked above, from where the sounds were originating, I saw an odd bird, much bigger than a dove, perched atop the roof of my house – it was a Greater Roadrunner!

Isaiah the prophet knew that doves can make moaning noises, as if mourning. But other birds can make similar noises, too.

ROADRUNNER Gary Stolz / USFWS (public domain) photo credit

After gazing up at the Roadrunner, who ignored me, I went inside and quickly fetched my handiest bird-book, and soon noticed the following information on the book’s page regarding the Greater Roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus):

“Voice: Six to eight low, dove-like coo’s, descending in pitch.”

[Peterson Field Guides, noted below]

[Quoting Roger Tory Peterson, A FIELD GUIDE TO WESTERN BIRDS (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin / PETERSON FIELD GUIDES, 3rd edition, 1990), page 212.]

Bingo! What a perfect description of what I had been hearing near my front door. 

ROADRUNNER / WorldAtlas.com photo credit

Then my imagination got to thinking.  Imagine a rat, or a snake, that hears that cooing on the ground, behind one of the thick bushes.  What if that hungry rat, or snake, wrongly guessed that the low-moaning cooing noises were clues of a nearby mourning dove nest, where tasty dove eggs (or dove hatchlings) might be located?  If any such rat, or snake, made such a mistaken guess —  OOPS!  Its last thought might be that a hungry roadrunner can sound like a dove!

Such a mistake could be fatal, of course, because roadrunners often eat snakes and small rodents, as well as small lizards, etc.

ROADRUNNER with lizard / U.S. Army (public domain) photo credit

Ironically, mourning doves often frequent the bushes next to my house; sometimes they perch atop the rooftop.  That means our roadrunners sometimes “shadow” the meanderings of our mourning doves. 

Someone once said that “curiosity killed the cat” —  well, sometimes curiosity might kill a rat.