February 2013 Life Bird
I did get one new Florida “life bird” this month though I tried and hoped for more. Thanks to reports from other birders I was able to easily locate a Cassin’s Kingbird south of Jacksonville. It breeds out west, but is occasionally seen in Florida during the winter.
In an unsuccessful attempt to find another new bird, the Iceland Gull, I found a close “look a like”, a Glaucous Gull. It’s another occasional visitor which I had seen for the first time last winter.
It was in a mixed group of gulls which included some regular winter visitors, adult Great Black-backed Gulls.
The most birds I saw at one location this month were at Hanna Park. Regular Florida residents included a Red-shouldered Hawk, Double-crested Cormorant, American Coot, and my first of the year Green Heron.
I also saw my first adult male Lesser Scaup at the park, a winter visitor.
At Howell Park I found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. As you can see the male is distinguished from the female by its red moustachial stripe (hers is black), and his larger red crest which extends to its forehead.
I followed them for a while and at one point I heard pecking sounds coming from a dead tree, but couldn’t find either one of them on the trunk. Finally the female’s head popped out of a hole to discard some wood chips and I realized they were excavating their new home!
Nearby in the park was another Florida resident, a Wood Stork, who looked amused at something.
Castaway Island Preserve was fairly quiet, but I did see Hooded Mergansers there for the first time, down by the boat ramp.
Finally, I was glad to see that the adult eagles I saw last month had successfully bred, and two eaglets were on the nest again in north Jacksonville.
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Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist