The young black swans were almost grown up in late April although they were half the size of the parents and still fuzzy gray. I stopped by Lake Morton on the way home from Bot Tower Gardens and did a walk around the lake before heading home.
This black swan was still sitting on eggs. It looks like she had 3 of them.
There were lots of young mute swans at various ages as well.
This mute swan was checking out her eggs.
Some of the swans were still flirting.
There was a small flock of white pelicans still hanging around. I didn’t think they stayed here all year round but they should have headed north by now. I love those pink and orange beaks.
Even the laughing gulls were flirting. It’s weird to see gulls at this lake since it’s in the middle of the state but there’s always a lot of them here. Maybe because people feed the ducks and swans so the gulls are trying to get a free handout.
A baby moorhen walking around in the grass with those big feet.
I heard some noise near the top of the cypress trees and realized there was a great blue heron nest up there with some almost grown babies.
A turtle posing for me.
On April 5th I watched as a pair of Carolina wrens built a nest in my hanging plant. At first I thought they had abandoned it but several days later I saw the wren fly out and went outside and saw 5 eggs in the hole. Three weeks later I kept seeing one flying into the nest with bugs. I’m thinking the eggs must have hatched.
One morning after the parent left I went outside and was able to take these with my camera. I couldn’t tell how many at this point but I thought I saw 3 beaks.
For days both parents were busy bringing in bugs. These were all taken through the window.
A few days later I went outside and caught the above. Their eyes were open at this point. I think there was a 4th one back there.
Mom and Dad continued to bring bugs.
This was about 8 days after I first saw the babies. They were growing so fast and so much. They all didn’t fit in the hole anymore and the biggest was sleeping out on the basket. I took this on a Thursday afternoon before we left to go to Fort Lauderdale for a long weekend to visit Brett’s relatives.
We got back from our trip late Sunday afternoon and I ran outside to check on the babies and the basket was empty. I was crushed. I didn’t think they could be big enough to be out of the nest yet and thought maybe the crows got them. I came back inside to unpack and a few minutes later I heard Brett yelling that he had just seen the babies. I ran outside with my camera and found them on my neighbor’s patio. They were bouncing around with Mom close by. There were 4 babies. I was so excited to see them. They will be flying in 2-3 days and Mom will continue to feed them as they bounce around, learning to fly. They were heading down the neighborhood that night, staying close to the townhomes. I hope they all made it.
I headed up to the bird rookery in north Tampa in early April. I knew it was a little too early for a lot of babies but it was a nice afternoon out and this is an afternoon shoot spot since the sun comes up across the lake in the morning. Great egrets were in all stages of nesting. Some had eggs, some had small babies and some looked like they were still flirting and working on nests.
There were at least 2 nests up front with baby wood storks. They look so pretty when they are babies with that orange beak and blue around their eyes. Woods storks are listed as a threatened species since their numbers are still small and are vulnerable to changing water levels. We are fortunate that they are a common bird in the Tampa bay area. I see them at many of the parks I visit as well as in the ponds in my neighborhood.
Birds were busy flying in and out of the rookery, bringing food to the babies and adding sticks to the nest. I was able to catch a great egret and a tricolored heron going by.
A tricolored heron was picking up sticks from the water and bringing them back to a hidden nest.
A rare thing to see in the Tampa bay area. It looks like some glossy ibis have been nesting here in the last few years. The nest is on the back side of the island so I haven’t seen any babies yet. For a long time I only saw them at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland but I’ve seen a few here lately.
Since we moved into our home in late September, I’ve always seen Carolina wrens in the backyard. Some days there are two but always at least one looking around for food. They sit on the bird feeder or the plants and sing for a while.
One morning I was home in early April and saw one bringing nesting stuff to the hanging plant in front of the window.
All day I watched as both wrens brought stuff into the plant. They were building a nest in there. I would see one stay inside the plant and dig around.
Pausing before heading into the plant, or was he posing for me?
The only shot I could get of both bringing in sticks at the same time.
Sitting on the edge at the end of the day. I didn’t see them again for a few days and thought maybe they abandoned it. I’ve heard they will build several before nesting. All of the above were taken through the window.
One morning I went outside to water the plants and saw her sitting inside. I was assuming she was sitting on eggs. Very exciting.
Occasionally I would see the male stop by.
One morning she left the nest for a few minutes and I peeked in and saw 5 tiny eggs. More to come on this story.
More from the great horned owl’s nest. These were all taken in late February, before we lost one of the babies to rat poison.
These were the only pictures I got of all 3 of the babies together. They were usually all over the place. The first one was taken early one morning, with the youngest trying to hide behind the moss.
One of my last visits at the end of February, they were flying to the nearby trees and really working those muscles.At the end of the day it was dark and cloudy and about to rain and they were very active but it was hard to get good shots in the bad light.
Here is where the problem is. They eat a lot of rats. Most restaurants, apartment buildlings and stores use those black rat poison boxes and don’t realize the impact it has on the other wildlife. If a rat eats the poison and doesn’t die right away, the owl is going to get it and eat it and die as well. There is a campaign to educate the people in the area about the side effects of using the poison. You don’t need it when you have owls, eagles and hawks living in the area. Plus there other non-poisonous traps to use. We also lost the Mom as well. She was found a few days after the baby. Both had necropsys done and they came back positive for rat poison.
I made a quick stop a few days later and Dad was raising the 2 remaining babies. I found the Dad and the babies were both high up in the next tree. I’ve heard they were doing well and flying all over the park since then. Edit-One of the remaining 2 babies was found dead at the park this week from rat poison and the Dad was found yesterday. So now there is only 1 remaining owl out of a family of 5.
I was up at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park at the end of January and noticed the pelicans were getting frisky. It was warm the day I was there but we still had some cold weather to get through. Injured pelicans live at the park (most are missing a wing) and are free to nest and raise their babies. Then the babies are able to fly free when they grow up.
A few of the residents showing me their missing wings.
It was funny to watch all of the couples flirting and getting the nests ready.
It’s also funny to watch them stretching their pouches.
Chilling, this one looks like he’s got his breeding feathers in with that pretty yellow head.
There are also a few white pelicans that live there but I’ve never seen them nest, Maybe they nest closer to the middle of the summer.
I was keeping an eye on the nearby local owl’s nest in mid-January. I’d stop by when I was out running errands. It was usually easy to spot one of the parents high up in the tree. Mom was always on the nest.
Near the end of January I could see a fuzzy white head on the nest. This was the youngest of three, still looking like an ugly duckling.
One of the other siblings were sitting up and looked much bigger. At this point we thought there might only be 2 babies.
A week later it was confirmed there were 3 babies. All of the babies were still sitting right in the nest so it was hard to see them clearly through all of the moss. More to come on these cuties growing up.