Taking a break from the snowy conditions of the Alaskan arctic, let’s return to the warmer, more humid climate of southern Florida. Sure we have beaches, sand, and sun … but we also have winter visitors … not just of the human kind, but also our bird friends come to visit for a bit. Some also court, mate, and raise their young too.
When they arrive, they do so in their Sunday finest … all dolled up and ready to impress. No other time do they possess such beautiful breeding colors and perform such elegant ways, designed to tantalize the ladies. One of the best examples of undergoing a metamorphis as such are the cattle egret. Once an “ordinary white bird”, they become striking with that red eye, multi-colored bright beak, exaggerated coloration, and that fabulous breeding plumage.Not native to Florida, though becoming quite popular, is the swamp hen. A bit similar in appearance to the purple gallinule, though its colors are muted and beak consists of less colors too. Still they possess a bit of that iridescence in those feathers when the sun hits it just right.Still one of the most elegant is the great egret.Though not as entertaining, the grebes also possess that cuteness factor … especially when they’re all fluffed up.In Florida, it’s not all birds that hang out in the wetlands and preserves. Again, though not native, we get our fair share of iguanas. I used to get quite upset seeing them, especially when they would hang out near the birds, but in reality, they’re more vegetarians and not necessarily after wildlife. Also, look at how amazingly photogenic they are … so prehistoric-looking, so full of details and features that could be the subject of a macro lens setup as well. We even get them in our yard!Other reptiles live in the wetlands too. This poor snake, fighting for its life, after being snatched from the grasses by the great blue heron … one of the most skillful hunters of frogs, snakes, and fish alike.It’s hard to miss the red cardinals when they’re around. On this particular day, there was one female, as shown below …..… flying around with not just one, but two, male cardinals chasing it. Clearly one of them was her favorite beau too. Look at how rich this guys coloring is! This was not enhanced via any processing color, but rather straight out of the camera.It’s always a thrill to find the sora out and about looking for something to eat along the soggy landscape. Usually the sighting doesn’t last too long, as it generally returns into the plants rather quickly.Though I’m not much of a “small bird”er, even I can’t resist the pretty little ones when they finally stand still, in the open, and pose for me. :-)The tri-colored herons are one of the most striking birds when in their breeding plumage. That bright red eye, deep blue bill, the beautiful tuft of white feathers out the back of their head, and their beautiful body feathers make the photographer or observer stop and look. The dance of courtship that they, and other birds, perform is a treat to watch as well. Preening one’s feathers, poking around at the tidy nest, and rhythmically moving up skyward, then down repeatedly … so amazing to watch!Speaking of beautiful show-offs, what better example of that is the peacock, with their extremely long feathers, all patterned with designs that look like eyes, as they drag them behind them like a bride with her wedding dress train. Though this guys not quite excited enough to lift them in a display fashion, it’s still quite beautiful. This guy was photographed while making his way through my friends front yard. I have some chickens down the block who wander through my yard … this guy can come visit me too if he wants.So these were just a few of the many avian visitors to south Florida. As the breeding season is over, not all, but many leave the area. Don’t blame them … it gets way too hot down here … I sometimes leave too. :-)
Next Up: Anyone want to go to Yellowstone NP in the winter?
© 2016 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography