The bird rookery

Catching a little blue heron lift off.

Snowy egrets were showing off.

Baby great egrets were screaming for Mom to feed them.

The sky over the Tampa rookery was busy in early April. It was like standing at the airport during the holidays watching the planes take off.

The cormarants and anhingas are usually high up in the trees but I saw this anhinga sitting on a nest low on the other side of the rookery.

There were many other birds at the rookery besides the usual egrets and herons. A night heron, a female red winged blackbird and a catbird were also sighted. I was excited to see the glossy ibis here in the bottom picture but it looked like the couple was working on a nest on the backside of the rookery so seeing little glossy babies is a slim chance.

Please don’t use rat poison

“What is everone looking at? Wait, I see a rat in the parking lot. Tell Mom to go get it.”

“I am Dracula. I suck the blood of rats”

“Soon I’ll be flying and can go get my own rat.”

“She’s taking my picture. I need to move over here to the best spot.”

Right before dark all three of the babies lined up and I got a shot of them all together. Both parents had just flown away, assuming to go get dinner. Since they are so curious, they were always looking everywhere. It was so amazing seeing these guys growing up. It really is a privilage to have these owls growing up in such a populated area. I didn’t make it back to the nest after this to see them all grown up.  Unfortunately no one got to see 2 of them grow up. I just recently found out that 2 of them died from rat poison. The third one survived. Maybe he didn’t get to eat as much of that poisoned rat that the parent brought back. This is what happens when people use rat poison boxes. The rats don’t die right away and the owl grabs it to bring back to the nest. These owls are a  natural pest control and the three young ones would have cleaned out most of the area of rats for a while when they first start to hunt.

Why the storks bring the babies!

I think this was the youngest baby at the rookery. You could just barely make out the baby’s head at the bottom of mom’s beak.

Most of the other nests had babies that were pretty grown up. For some reason these guys were wet and dirty. Dad must have brought back some wet dirty moss to replensh the nest.

Moms were busy tending to the nests and babies all over the tiny island in the middle of this neighborhood pond.

Looks like this Mom had only one baby. Some had two or three.

Zooming in, these guys were all white and fluffy.

 

The annual trip to the Tampa rookery

As soon as I got to the bird rookery in north Tampa in late April I look over and see a muscovy duck family resting in the shade. I snapped a couple of pictures and then realized they see me. They all popped up and came running over to me.  “Not going to happen guys” I said. I’m not feeding them although I’m sure people who live in the nearby neighborhood do. After they realized I wasn’t going to feed them they got in the water and took off for a swim.

The wood storks were flying into the pond right near where I was standing and while getting a sip of water this one found a good stick to take back to the nest. He’s looking at me like “What do you think of my stick?”. I’m thinking “She’s going to kick you off the nest if you come back with that tiny stick.”

Wood storks were constantly flying over to surrounding trees and grabbing sticks to bring back to the nest.

True love is hard to find.

This guy was being lazy. Just watching all of the busy birds go by.

SkyWatch Friday

Guess what’s for breakfast

Mom was digging around in the nest early one morning in February and pulled up a rat. I’m going to be repetitive about using rat poison. Owls love rats. When people use rat poison the rats don’t die right away. They wander off and the owls pick them up and eat them. Owls can easily die from a rat that has eaten rat poison.  You don’t need to use it. The owls (eagles and hawks as well) will take care of the rats.

I spent a good part of the morning waiting for the baby owls to wake up and then  watching Mom taking turns feeding the babies.  Doesn’t that look yummy!?!  It was an overcast day, I was using my long lens and these are extremely cropped up so they aren’t quite as clear as I would have liked. But that’s okay. I’d rather be standing half way across the beach than too close. I didn’t make it back out later to see these little ones completely grown. On a sad circle of life note, I heard that one went missing and a team of people spent all morning looking for it. They think it may have fallen during the night. The area has a lot of coyotes that we don’t see during the day so one of them or an eagle could have gotten it.

A brave Mom defending her babies.

It was drizzling on and off in early February when I first caught a glimpse of the baby great horned owls at Fort Desoto. The two babies huddled together and Mom stayed with them on the nest when I first got there.

After the rain stopped and the sun was trying to peak out, Mom flew over to a tree across the trail. Looks like she was trying to wake up and stretch.

The black hooded parakeets were flying by, being loud and annoying. The owl paid little attention to the parakeets buzzing around.

All of a sudden Mom sits up and looks at something close by the nest.

We all turned around to see what Mom was looking at. An eagle had quietly landed on a branch right near the nest. The eagle started screaming and Mom flew off the nest and chased the eagle away. It all happened so fast that I did not even got a shot of the confrontation.

After chasing the eagle off, Mom came back and landed on the nest. This time she stayed on the nest for a while. The baby popped his head up for a few seconds then went back to sleep. It’s going to be fun watching these guys grow up.

My Corner of the World

The last of the baby egrets

One of the last nests with young ones. Driving Mom crazy begging for food.

One last trip to the bird rookery in north Tampa in June and there were still a lot of babies. Most of the great egrets babies were almost fully grown but there were still a few smaller ones getting fed by the parents. They look so clean and white against the green bushes, almost like marshmallows with legs. It’s amazing none of the eyes get poked out when the parents are trying to feed them.

 

In these last two shots, you can see fish parts coming down the parent’s beak and into the baby’s beak. Yummy regurgitated fish for lunch!

Lots of birds at the rookery.

There’s something comical about baby anhingas. They were yelling for Mom to feed them and I could hear them from far across the pond.

A great egret waiting for her offspring to arrive.

A little blue heron was still flirting, trying to attract a mate.

Snowy egrets showing off.

Crazy antics at the bird rookery in north Tampa in May.

My Corner of the World

 

A face only a mother could love

Woods storks are listed as an uncommon bird on the All About Birds page and are listed as federally threatened. They are fairly common here in the Tampa bay area. I see them pretty regularly at most of the parks that I visit.  There is a rookery in Tampa that has a large population of them nesting. I love going to see them in the late spring and watch them raising their babies. The babies are just as homely as the parents. These were taken in late April.

Many of the storks were still flirting and building nests,

 

Screaming white fuzz balls.

It’s that time of the year again. Where the bushes over ponds are loud with baby great egrets screaming for food. The north Tampa rookery had a few families that were already making a lot of noise.

These little babies have a lot of personality and are very loud for their size.

I was able to catch Mom feeding the baby and it looks like he got a good size piece of regurgitated fish from her. It’s amazing how big the food is when they swallow it. He got that piece down with no problem.