Who is this mystery bird with the white mask? It is the Blue-headed Vireo. It was once lumped in with two other species as the Solitary Vireo. It spends its winter in the deep south and Florida, but breeds in the northeast states and more widely in Canada.
The male and female of the Blue-headed Vireo are aggressive in defending the nest and young.
Florida Red-Shouldered Hawk
I have so many photos of the Florida Red-shouldered Hawk. This one has no relationship to the chick I posted. I spend so much time in the field, I just run into a lot of hawks. I think they are beautiful.
Florida Red-Shouldered Hawk and chick
I think this scene is full of #cuteness. I was photographing mom, a #Florida Red-shouldered #Hawk, when the #chick raised his head and #photobombed her. I think he is saying "I'm ready for lunch."
I was excited to see my first Monarch of the year. Healthy and flying strong, I thought he would never land so I could get a shot. It's not easy being a Monarch. I hope they have a great year.
Like many of the other water birds in the Everglades, I noticed this Tricolored Heron retreated to the trees when not feeding. Considering the alligators and other predators there I don't blame him.
Brown Anole Lizard
I love lizards, even the invasive Brown Anole which is driving the native Green Anole higher in the canopy. It took 100+ shots to capture this gesturing used to attract mates and defend territory.
The male Anhinga is a ruby-eyed bird that is silky smooth and swims with only his head above water, able dive deep to catch fish. In the air, he can soar. But on the ground and in trees he's not so much, and it is there he seems ungainly big to me.
First year female Magnolia Warbler
Some birds are too pretty not to post, but can be difficult to identify. This one took hours. It has characteristics of several birds, but is not completely like any of them. I finally found a credible reference for a first year female Magnolia Warbler. That's a mouthfull.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, male Myrtle variety
While I was trying to photograph something else I noticed this Yellow-rumped Warbler up in a nearby tree. Just as I was turning to get a better look, the bird came down a few branches to get a better look at me.
Adolescent Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
I was a little puzzled when I first saw this bird. It turned out to be an adolescent Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that does not yet have the red markings that would identify it as a male or female.
I've tried to stay still so as not to startle the Ovenbird, but he moves so quickly along the ground that I have to keep repositioning and refocusing. This was the best I could do on this one, but it does highlight his faint orange crown and other feather detail.
Sunset over Hammond Lake
This was a sunset I watched recently. As the sun went down the mosquitoes got ever friskier, but I wasn't going to let them deny me the privilege of this sight and stayed until the sun was over the horizon.
Mom and babies, Sandhill Cranes
It was about an hour before sunset when these Sandhill Cranes returned to the nest for the day. Mom was adjusting the nest while the babies waited for her to settle down so they could snuggle under her wing for the night.
Northern Parula singing, male
I was mesmerized watching this Northern Parula singing his buzzy trilling call as the sun went down. When it lit up his body, I knew it was time to take the shot.
I laughed out loud when I saw this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher land right behind this leaf. I wasn't sure if it was an accident or he was just modest.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, female Myrtle variety
I've been surprised to see a lot variation in female Yellow-rumped Warblers from browner on top and some on the chest to more black and white. This is an example of the browner variety with her color warmed up a bit more by the sunset.
Prairie Warbler, male
This male Prairie Warbler leaned into the light of the setting sun. It lit his face nicely but also revealed the warbler's eye in a way I haven't seen in any other photo of this bird!
Red-bellied Woodpecker, male
I like the way this male Red-bellied Woodpecker shows how they use their stiff tail, holding on with their feet and pushing back for stability and leverage. This allows them to use their beaks more effectively for food, drumming, or excavating nesting holes.
I found a friendler Palm Warbler that was more tolerant of people. He wouldn't let me approach him, but as long as I sat still he was willing to chase bugs not far from me.
Julia Heliconian Butterfly laying eggs
I watched this Julia Heliconian butterfly fly from spot to spot laying a single egg. You can see one here. It was a special moment but almost impossible to photograph because she was under a dark canopy.
Scarlet Darter Dragonfly
I was on a trail looking for things to photograph and suddenly saw a Scarlet Darter Dragonfly. I was so excited but also afraid he would fly away while I dialed in settings on my camera at lightning speed. He was still there! I fired away and got this shot.
Male Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Sometimes I wish I knew what birds were thinking. The male Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a tiny (0.2-0.3 oz or 5-10 g) ball of energy that zips all over the place. Occasionally they stop like this one as if posing, then they are gone again in an instant.
Are crocodiles native to the US? Yes, at least in southern Florida. This is the American Crocodile. I spotted it on a recent trip to the Everglades and it was huge. These bad boys will eat anything foolish enough to get near them, including people.
Florida Red-shouldered Hawk
This hawk was a long way off. It looked familiar but different. Later I learned it is the Florida version of the Red-shouldered Hawk, a sub-species called the extimus group. It has a much lighter head and breast than the others I have posted.
It's no accident the male Red-winged Blackbird looks so regal and confident. The female tends to stay low in the bushes while the male flys between high perches singing loudly to let the world know he's there.
I prefer to photograph birds in natural settings, but sometimes they land on manmade structures. I still like the way the rust colors of this Chipping Sparrow, pipe and distant trees with dead leaves all come together to show off this beautiful bird.
Roseate Spoonbill in flight
A small flock of Roseate Spoonbills took off up ahead of me and parallel to the road I was traveling. I jumped out of the car with my camera but had no time to adjust the settings to the circumstances. This shot of a forelorn looking bird is all I could manage.
Halloween Pennant Dragonfly
The Halloween Pennant is not a dragonfly I often see but I love the intricate lace-like wings. It shows well in good light against a dark background, so I was happy to see him repeatedly return to this stick in dark water.
Black-throated Green Warbler, male
I was excited to see a male Black-throated Green Warbler with his namesake deep black throat but he was moving rapidly through dense branches looking for food. Suddenly he flew to an open branch and held on sideways just long enough to get a shot. Then he was gone.
I heard an Osprey calling and after a while was able to follow the call to the nest. I didn't know if it was mom or dad but noticed they were not sitting like they were incubating eggs. I wondered if they were waiting for eggs or had tiny baby Ospreys.
The parent was away getting lunch. I didn't know if there was a chick in there, but I held my heavy camera at the ready just in case. After several minutes my arms were about to give out when this cute little head popped up for a quick look around and I got this shot.
Female Anhinga on the Nest
The Anhinga is a big bird famous for its ability to dive deep to catch fish. It is also called the Snake Bird for the way it swims through the water with only its head up stalking fish. Here the female sits on the nest calling her mate.
This photo shows the female Anhinga more clearly. I watched her dry off with wings spread wide right before this shot. They dry off because their feathers are not waterproof, which helps them stay submerged longer and swim with only their heads above water.
Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico
I often watch a sunset without my camera. Sometimes it's just better to be in the moment with nature and experience something special without the distraction of taking a photo. On this day I took my camera so I would be able to share this special moment with you.
This is the long and lanky male Boat-tailed Grackle. I just sat and watched this beautiful bird calling loudly for a while. His brown eyes are unusual for a grackle, but characteristic of the western Gulf Coast.
Key West feral Rooster
This is not my usual bird post, but it is very interesting. This is a beautiful feral rooster typical of Key West, Florida. Colorful and distinctive feral chickens have the run of the place in all business and residential areas. Hearing roosters crow is common throughout the day.
Skyvine is a fast-growing vine that grows in warm climates. Introduced from India, it is sometimes called the Bengal Clock Vine because it twines in a clockwise direction. It is cultivated in the US and also grows wild as most introduced species eventually do.
Great Crested Flycatcher
The Great Crested Flycatcher likes to hang out in the highest parts of the tree so this guy was was way up there. I couldn't get a closeup but the sun was just beginning to go down so it lit up his yellow breast nicely.
Photographing a bird I haven't seen before is so exciting! Later I learned this is the Yellow-throated Warbler. There is no way to tell the sex but I'll call it she because I think she's a beauty.
Female Eastern Bluebird
At the end of the day, I often transition from birds to sunsets. One day I absentmindedly photographed this beautiful female Eastern Bluebird on the way to the sunset. I had no idea it would turn out to be one of my favorite photos of this species.
Pileated Woodpeckers are one of the larger and louder woodland birds. This one was responding to another Pileated much further away. They are hard to miss and harder to photograph. Note the flaming crest, bold markings, huge beak, large pupil, and padded-looking shoulders.
Female Black-throated Green Warbler
This is another shot of the female Black-Throated Green Warbler that was on migration. I'm so glad she came back so I could a few shots before she was on her way. Hope I get to see this bird again this year.