Thursday, May 28, 2020

Raptor Rapture: Eagles and eaglets

There has been lots of excitement at the Bald Eagle nest in Pembroke Pines near our south Florida home. We have been following this nest since it was "discovered" in 2008. Over that time, the male "Pride," his first mate "Joy" and present mate "Jewel" have produced 25 known eaglets over all the seasons except in 2014-2015. That was when Jewel replaced Joy, who mysteriously disappeared in October, 2014. 

This was Joy in January, 2014, then tending to her final brood:

Bald Eagle adult on nest 3-20140105

Bald Eagle 0909-1 adult2 flies to west 20140111

P Piney 13 and 12, Joy's last brood, January, 2014:

Bald Eagle chicks P Piney 13 and 12  interact 2-20140131

Jewel was young, probably early in her fifth year and still exhibited some immature plumage. She seemed to lack the maternal instinct when they mated in early January 2015, probably too late in the season. She may have laid some eggs which Pride appeared to incubate for a time, but they did not breed successfully. 

The next season (2015-16) got off to a good start, with evidence that their first egg was laid on December 13, about average for this nest. However, a severe wind storm in late January damaged the nest and killed their 4-day old eaglet as well as any unhatched eggs which may have been present. The pair proved they were resourceful and bred a second time, producing two eaglets which hatched out around March 16, 2016. One of their two nestlings appeared to have either been out-competed or killed by its sibling. The surviving eaglet fledged successfully on June 16, 2016.

Jewel in December, 2016: 

Bald Eagle female Jewel 20161228

Jewel in flight, March 2017:

Bald Eagle female in flight 03-20170319

The pair successfully raised two offspring in the 2016-2017 season. The next season (2017-2018), one of their two nestlings also disappeared when about 2 weeks old. The surviving eaglet took her first flight in early April, 2018. Last season (2018-2019), two eaglets were successfully raised during the 2018-2019 season. They fledged in early April, 2019. 

Jewel soaring with Tree Swallows, December 2018: 

Bald Eagle female Jewel in flight101-20181227

Pride and Jewel (noticeably larger, to the right) on the nest while they were renovating it in late September, 2019

Bald Eagle Pride and Jewel 4-20190929

The present season (2019-2020) was a repeat of the tragedy of 2016. After we saw evidence that at least one eaglet was present in the nest on January 2, 2020, two severe thunderstorms on January 4 and 10th damaged the nest and presumably mortally injured or killed the offspring. After that, the pair worked to restore the nest and they copulated on January 25. 

There was good evidence that the pair was exchanging incubation duties over a second clutch of eggs by mid-February and that at least one of two surviving eaglets was present on March 14, 2020. Two eaglets are now about 10 1/2 weeks (~75 days) old. The first-hatched, which we believed to be the a female ("P Piney 24," the 24th known progeny), fledged successfully  a week ago, on May 21. 

Although she has been heard calling near the nest, she had not been seen at the nest for the past seven days. It is not unusual for newly-fledged eaglets to go missing for a few days until hunger drives them back to the nest to be fed. Most birds tend not to return to their nest after their first flight. Bald Eagles, particularly when there is more than one eaglet, are enticed to continue occupying the nest while they gain hunting skills and learn to become independent. This is habit keeps the family unit together and is a more efficient way of feeding and protecting them. 

Jewel with female eaglet (P Piney 24) on April 1, 2020:

Bald Eagle female 736-20200401

Male eaglet (P Piney 25) alone on nest, May 22, 2020:

Bald Eaglet male P Piney 25 02-20200522

For latest reports on this nest, visit: CURRENT 2019-2020 Observations of Pembroke Pines Bald Eagle Nest

Pride in flight, May 22, 2020:

Bald Eagle male Pride in flight 03 -20200522

I saw this Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly while watching the nest on May 22:

 Ruddy Daggerwing 01-20200522

Storms threatened nearly every morning as we moved into the wet season. Here, the sun struggled to escape the cloud cover:

Sunburst over Monaco Cove 20200520

Before sunrise on May 23, the sky to the northwest was alive with color:

Pine Bank before sunrise 2-20200523

Storms appeared to be moving in...

Storms moving in 02-20200523

...but this one passed by and produced a rainbow which reflected nicely:

Rainbow over 196th Ave Canal 20200522

The entrance to our subdivision glows under the rising sun:

Monaco Cove entry 20200522

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday


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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Crops & Clips: Latest clicks

The rainy season is settling in. Several weeks before the "official" Atlantic hurricane season we were visited by a weather disturbance which developed near The Bahamas and threatened to develop into a tropical storm. This curtailed our morning walks for a few days. Just before the skies turned cloudy and the winds and rain started, I looked up over the wetlands to see...

...White Ibises in flight...

White Ibises 01-20200506

White Ibis 02-20200506

...a Bald Eagle, which appears to be "Pride," the male member of the pair which nests about 1 1/2 miles from our home...

Bald Eagle male Pride 01-20200428

...Mottled Ducks...

Mottled Ducks 01-20200513

...Wood Storks...

Wood Storks 1-20200511

...Green Heron...

Green Heron 01a-20200509

...Common Nighthawk...

Common Nighthawk 01-20200504

...and Monk Parakeet.

Monk Parakeet  06-20200504

Before sunrise, a poor image of a female Anhinga...:

Anhinga before sunrise 20200503

...which rested on a rock in the lake:

Anhinga 03- 20200511

Earlier, the Flower Moon had waned to gibbous...

Moon waning gibbous 20200512

...and Eastern Screech-Owls were active along the trail (notice that this one has caught a lizard):

Eastern Screech-Owl 01-20200511

Eastern Screech-Owl 05-20200511

Out in the dimly-lit wet prairie, I startled a White-tailed buck and doe:

White-tail buck 02-20200511

White-tail doe 04-20200511

Spending most of the day at home, confined to COVID-19 lockdown, I took advantage of the spare time to create a couple of composite photos--

A flock of ibises traversing the full Flower Moon before sunrise:

Moon Ibis Composite 20200507

Moon Ibises composite 2-20200508

A Tricolored Heron partially eclipsing the Moon:

Moon Tricolored Composite CROP 20200507

Back to reality, the back yard  birds provided a diversion. A Tricolored Heron caught sight of me and flew across the lake:

Tricolored Heron 03-20200506

Tricolored Heron 04-20200506

Through the back window, I watched a hungry European Starling youngster beg for grubs from Mom. I am glad that we do not use insecticides on our lawn: 

European Starlings 01-20200508

European Starlings 02-20200508

The day-old Full Flower Moon setting on May 7, before sunrise...

Full Flower Moon 05-20200507

...and after sunrise:

Full Flower Moon 06-20200507

Neighborhood kids enjoying a bit of freedom under watchful eyes of their Labradoodle:

Gone fishin'01- 20200515

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


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All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Crops & Clips: Spring Migration

Birding during spring migration in southeastern Florida is usually less productive than in autumn. In past years there have been pleasant surprises. One of the best years was 2011, when I found nine warbler species one morning in mid-April. 

A highlight then was a Blackpoll Warbler:

Blackpoll Warbler male 20110414

Least Terns return to our lake on or very close to April 15 every year:

Least Terns 2-20120418

Their courtship rituals begin almost immediately:

Least Tern courtship 2-20120419

Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers (from left to right) pass through...

Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers 20150416 do Black-necked Stilts:

Black-necked Stilt 2-20160412

Our winter residents are departing....

Black-and-White Warblers:

Black-and-White Warbler 09-20160414

Gray Catbird:

Gray Catbird 20111108

Blue-headed Vireo:

Blue-headed Vireo 04-20181225
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 01-20190923

Our Son-in-Law was born in Sagua la Grande on the north coast of Cuba, which spreads out about 100 miles south of Key West. His father speaks of seeing large numbers of colorful birds filling the trees in springtime, waiting for favorable winds to help them cross northward over the Straits of Florida. 

This phenomenon was portrayed dramatically in these Key West velocity radar images which I captured overnight on April 26, 2017. The echoes of migrating birds moving towards the radar are depicted in green, while those moving away to  the north are red:

April 25, 2017 at 9:52 PM: 

Key West radar 0952 PM APR 25, 2017

April 26, 2017 at 5:15 AM:

Key West radar 0515 AM APR 26, 2017

At the same time that morning, the Miami Radar returned dense echoes passing overhead. Our home, indicated by the "+" mark, inland  between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, appeared to be in the middle of a mass migration:

Miami radar 0515 AM APR 26, 2017 

The results on the ground were not quite as impressive, though I did find 16 individuals of seven warbler species. I expected that birds would be dropping off the trees! In truth, the radar is also capturing the huge biomass "bloom" of insects which are mostly being blown along by the prevailing winds. 

This spring's migration has been rather disappointing. Prevailing winds from the southeast often direct the migrants towards the west coast of Florida and even across the Gulf of Mexico. Also, since migrating birds can fly up to 50 miles an hour with a favorable tail wind, they can pass over south Florida well before settling down at sunrise. 

My  most memorable warbler sightings this year were small flocks of Cape May Warblers, on April 19 and 28:

Cape May Warbler 02-20200419

Cape May Warbler male 01-20200428

Cape May Warbler male 02-20200428

FACTOID: "The Cape May Warbler breeds in boreal coniferous forests, where it sings, feeds, and nests high in the spruce canopy... Although the first illustrations of this species were based on birds taken in Canada, its English name refers to the locality from which Alexander Wilson first described the species—Cape May, New Jersey—where it was not recorded again for more than 100 years..." (Ref: Cornell Lab Birds of the World)

After a very dry winter and early spring, we are finally entering our wet season. Sunrises can be spectacular...

View from our back patio on May 6, 2020:

Monaco Cove at sunrise 20200506 

The sky had cleared by nightfall as the Full Flower Moon rose over our lake:

 Monaco Cove  moonrise 20200506

Before sunrise In the local wetlands, a thunderstorm along the Atlantic coast cast a shadow which arched over to the Everglades on the opposite horizon:

Shadow of thunderhead before sunrise 02-20200430

Shadow of thunderhead before sunrise 03-20200430

Tiny but beautiful Dainty Sulphur butterflies danced over grassy spots:

Dainty Sulphur 20200506

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display