We started the month of February back home in Florida, having returned from Illinois late on January 24th in order to host Mary Lou's brother and his daughter and her husband whom we had invited to stay with us before we had to run off in early January to care for our daughter's family when she broke her leg.
We took our guests to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, where this American Alligator was basking. I did not dare get close enough for a Macro:
Although common throughout much of North America, American Robins visit the Florida peninsula only in winter. We see them infrequently, so they are a treat when they do appear. This one is feasting on exotic Brazilian Pepper:
You may recall that on December 22, 2012, two captive-reared Whooping Crane colts overflew their migration route and appeared in our local wetlands. During our absence, the female ("Tussock" #12-13) injured her foot, became emaciated and had to be captured and transported to Wild Kingdom in Orlando for treatment and rehabilitation. The male (Cypress #12-15) was still here, flying about...
...and casting a fine reflection:
Here is a brief slide show and video clip that tells more about the Whooping Cranes:
(if video does not appear in the space below, click on THIS LINK)
Although he had been captive-reared in Wisconsin where great pains had been taken to shield him from human contact, Cypress looked right at home in a small park just across the street from our neighbor Scott's house:
Indeed, pedestrians and auto traffic seemed not to bother him a bit:
This was cause for great concern as, after being left on his own, he seemed oblivious to the dangers of an urban environment. On February 10, two representatives of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) were dispatched to capture Cypress. They located him with telemetry and did a very professional job of safely retrieving the crane. He was malnourished, but soon recovered and was relocated to a ranch in the Lake Okeechobee area with others of his species.
Shrouded in a white sheet and tempting him with grapes, Jeannette led the crane into an open area where a snare had been placed:
The ruse worked, and the crane was trapped by the leg:
Ricardo rushed to immobilize the great bird:
He quickly placed a sock over the crane's head, which immediately quieted him (Photo property of Scott McPherran, used with permission):
Within minutes, safely cradled in Jeannette's arms, Cypress was on his way to Orlando. I wish the story had a happy ending, but both cranes subsequently perished out in the wild during the harsh winter (Photo property of Scott McPherran, used with permission):
The very next day we flew back to Illinois to permit our son-in-law's parents to return home after taking their turn at caring for the household. It was snowy and cold, and the two Tibetan Mastiffs just loved it:
Another canid, this a Coyote, stopped to watch us as we looked for winter sparrows in a cornfield:
Under gray skies, a bank of trees acted as a windbreak for the cropland:
Among the cornstalk stubs we found American Tree Sparrows...
...and Horned Larks:
In our daughter's back yard, we saw another robin, this time fluffed up against the cold and falling snow...
...and a hardy "Snowbird," a Dark-eyed Junco:
I had to really search for a shot that could legitimately qualify as a MACRO.
This is the only part of a Tricolored Heron that I could fit into the viewfinder as it roosted on the railing of the boardwalk at Everglades national Park:
I got even closer to this Gray Squirrel as it refused to climb any higher in the tree in our front yard until it finished eating the acorn:
In Illinois later in the month the snow had cleared. This is a better photo of the fence in our daughter's back yard. Behind it is a managed tall grass prairie which is very attractive to wildlife:
Two Black-capped Chickadees race each other to the feeders:
This old barn is one of my favored subjects:
Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa).
Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James
Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni
Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart
Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura
Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display