June 2011 Central Florida Birds
Locating and photographing Florida’s 500 plus birds requires traveling around the state to find species that are usually seen only in certain geographic areas and habitats. The Snail Kite is found in tropical South America, the Caribbean, and central and southern Florida. It is a locally endangered species in Florida, primarily due to depletion of its primary food source, the Apple Snail.
While I ventured to Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida in search of the Snail Kite I also found other “new” birds for my life list. The Limpkin is a year round resident in Florida with a range extending south to Argentina.
The Black-necked Stilt, common in central Florida, is occasionally seen in Northeast Florida in the spring and summer. It is a relatively large, slender shorebird, with long thin pink legs and a thin black needle-like bill.
Another year round resident common to central Florida is the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck. Due to its unique appearance, this species is almost unmistakable. As its name implies, these are noisy birds with a clear whistling call.
While visiting the Orlando area again I was in search of other birds seen more commonly in Central Florida. The University of South Florida (Tampa) hosts an online service (called BRDBRAIN) for birders to report their sightings. It is a good source for locating rare and unusual species. Thanks to BRDBRAIN reports I was able to locate the Burrowing Owl in a rural farm field in Hernando County, about an hours drive west of Orlando. It is a small, slim, long-legged owl, that roosts and nests in burrows. Unlike most owls they are active during the day.
In another field less than a mile away a large number of Swallow-tailed Kites were circling and swooping for large grasshoppers that were leaping from the knee-high grasses. The bird has a distinctive silhouette with a long deeply forked tail, and long narrow sharply pointed wings. It is a spring and summer visitor seen throughout the state.
Finally, in Clermont Florida, less than a half hour north of Orlando, I found the Florida Scrub-Jay, thanks to local birder, Joyce Stefancic. Per her directions, at the corner of Citrus Grove Rd and Scrub Jay Lane, I found two Jays waiting to greet me. This is the only species of bird endemic to the State of Florida, and therefore sought by birders who travel to the State to observe this unique bird.
Lake Louisa State Park, about 20 minutes north of Orlando, has always been a good place to find Eastern Meadowlarks on the pines.
I also saw my first Gound-Dove there, a very small, deep-bellied, short-tailed dove. Both of these birds are also found in Northeast Florida.
In an effort to catch-up and then keep-up with my birding posts, I promise to be less wordy, making the posts shorter, and primarily just showing the pictures and locations of my birding adventures. Comments and questions are welcome anytime.
Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist
NEXT POST June 2011 – North Jacksonville: Red-Headed Woodpeckers and more!