Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Florida Raptors

When we come to Florida for birding, we normally think of gulls and various shore and wading birds, which we saw lots of this trip, of course.
But I really enjoyed all the different raptors we found. Someone said that Florida has the third highest population of Bald Eagles in the country, after Alaska and Minnesota.
This is the beginning of mating season for many birds. Kentucky Eagles are starting to nest as well, but not many of the other birds.
Vultures, both Black and Turkey Vultures can be seen everywhere, rising in kettles.
When I see those large groups, I imagine that there may be a landfill nearby.
Apparently Florida Ospreys don't migrate to South America with the more northern birds. We saw lots of them both over the ocean and in the many estuaries and rivers. We even saw a pair building a nest in the parking lot at Walmart's!
 Red-shouldered Hawk are the predominant hawk in Florida, but their breasts are a paler rust than ours at home.
But I was most excited to find raptors we do not have in Kentucky. This Caraca walked across a field then flew up to a cabbage palm where it was working on a nest.
A Merlin flew into a tree with a grackle in his talons and we watched him eat lunch then fly away.
And Kestrels were everywhere, but no Peregrines on this trip.

Snail Kites are another endangered species in Florida, but we had wonderful looks at them. One mail was eating a big snail, while a female perched quietly in a tree. Just look at the long curved beaks used to dig the snails out of their shells. At Raptor Rehab we would be ready to cope that beak.
Northern Harriers soared by regularly, but never landed where I could get a good look at them.
We even saw some owls! This Great Horned Owl had taken over an Osprey nest and was sitting on eggs with her eyes shut in the bright sun. A Barn Owl was nesting in a maintenance building and flew out when someone went to check on the chicks which have already hatched. It's been a wonderful week for a raptor fan like myself!