Taking a break from the polar bears … well pardon the pun, to a “polar” opposite subject … from bears to birds, of Florida, no less.
Am I the only one out there that has difficulty getting the camera in gear after a big photo trip? Seems like every year after I return from Alaska, I cull and process my images for endless hours. Combine that task with the holiday events that seem endless as well, once the last quarter of the year arrives and I guess it’s a bit overwhelming. So this year in early January, I made it a priority to get out and see what my home state had to offer.
This little loggerhead shrike might look all sweet and fluffy, but it’s actually a fierce predator that has been known for executing its unfortunate prey by peircing them on the barb wire that often is readily available in its environment. I remember one year we found one in the middle of a dirt road that we were driving on, dazed but alive, Tom rescued it from a certain untimely death. I was a bit concerned that it would use its sharp beak to impale Tom’s hand, but it didn’t as Tom gently placed it in a bushy tree nearby, where its partner came over to it. What an awesome feeling to know that we (actually Tom) did something good. Yes, he’s always the one placing the crossing turtle on the side of the road it was traveling to … giving it a hand as well.Many of our sightings were of Florida’s resident bald eagles, hence the “Soaring with Eagles” blog post title.We photograph lots of bald eagles in Alaska during our travels, so I’m always quite a bit fascinated by them. Everyone expects bald eagles in Alaska, or migratory ones in eastern Washington state or other known migratory paths. Few know that Florida actually has the most bald eagles in the lower 48 states. On top of that … ours are primarily residents, not just migratory. Whenever I’m traveling in my car from south Florida to the north, I can almost always count on spotting on them along the way, to which a “BALDIES!” scream comes out of me. LOL.Hard to believe that these iconic birds, our national bird and symbol, were once so endangered and their numbers were so few. It’s an incredible story about recovery once restrictions and protections are implemented. It makes the “doubters” of recovery efforts have difficulty defending that stance. The earlier images were all adult bald eagles, which sport that iconic white head and white tail feathers. The next two images show the bald eagles in their sub-adult phase, clearly lacking that fully white head and fully white tail. In Florida, if someone tells you that they saw a golden eagle, it was probably a sub-adult baldie.
I don’t know why, but I always find the sub-adult feathers quite fascinating and beautiful. Of course, whether fully adult, sub-adult, or even young eaglets, their talons are always amazing and mesmerizing to me.Probably my favorite thing about bald eagles is their call. Once you hear it once, you’ll never forget it. Of course, our time in the wilderness wasn’t just about the eagles … but also other birds, such as another favorite of mine, the sandhill cranes. Flying over in (a sort of) V-formation is a thrill to witness and of course their bugling when in flight, in landing, in take-off, or in dance, sends a big smile across my face.Sightings of eastern phoebe are also common along the way. So cute, aren’t they? They are also quite fascinating too. Did you know that an eastern phoebe sings a perfect song without having to “practice” it? Also, what was the first bird ever to be banded well over a century ago? Yep, the eastern phoebe.Now, how could a day be complete with a “coot convention” sighting? LOLSo overall, it was a fun weekend of birding in central Florida and of course, soaring with the eagles. One more beauty to share.Hope that everyone enjoyed the blog post.
Next up: More local birding adventures … from Florida … it’s what’s for winter, after all.
© 2016 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy