Growing up fast

I headed back to the bird rookery in north Tampa in mid-May for a quick trip out of the house. I figured most of the baby birds were grown up and they were, including the big baby egrets above. They were still waiting for Mom to come home with dinner.

I don’t think Mom was ready to get back to the nest. She stopped close by and took a break.

There were still a lot of cattle egrets in breeding colors but I didn’t see any babies. They usually nest much farther into the bushes.

The anhinga on the right was keeping an eye on the wood stork, making sure he didn’t get too close.

A few of the other birds included a little blue heron, a young night heron and a tricolored heron.

The anhingas were farther back on the little island. Mom was feeding an almost grown baby in the shot above. That doesn’t look comfortable having the baby stick it’s head down her throat.

The baby muscovy ducks were almost grown as well. They saw me get out of my car and came swimming over. “Sorry guys, no handouts from me.”

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Back at the nursery

I stopped in again at the wood stork rookery in north Tampa in mid-May. The small island in the middle of a medium pond was still packed with birds nesting. Wood storks were busy flying in back to the nest.

Most of the babies were almost grown at this point. They have pretty faint yellow and pink beaks when they are young.

Many of them were practicing their wing flapping. Getting ready for that first flight.

“Whadda you want?”

I saw a lady get out of her car near the end of the pond and I thought maybe she was taking pictures from farther away but then I realized she had dumped bread on the bank to feed the birds. She dumped and drove off. I would loved to have been able to tell her that old bread is bad for the birds. They should be eating bugs and fish. By the time I walked over to the area the bread had been snatched up by the wood storks.

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.

Rainbow beaks and pink legs

I love seeing the cattle egrets during mating season. Their beaks change colors and the feathers on their back turn tan. The one above was only slightly changed. During non-breeding season all of his feathers would be white. These are all from my annual trip to the bird rookery in north Tampa in April.

This one was ready to nest. HIs beak is in bright orange and yellow colors with that touch of purple at his face and his legs have turned pink. He was busy bring sticks to the nest deep in the bushes.

After many trips to the nest with sticks, he stood on a branch and took a break. It’s hard to believe this is the same type of bird as the one in the first picture.

You could just make out the mate in the bushes. She was busy putting the sticks in the right place on that tiny nest.  Soon they’ll be starting a family.

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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

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!

Growing old quickly

The young wood storks have such interesting faces. They lose that hint of blue and pink in their beaks when they get older. It’s a shame they look so old so fast. There were a lot of young ones at the rookery in north Tampa back in early June. Many were practicing their wing flaps.

This young one was eating something gunky. That orange gunk doesn’t look like regurgitated fish.

The adults were busy going about their day. The one in the bottom picture looks like he has paint across his back. Maybe he brushed up against something. He seemed okay.

Baby birds growing up

I made it to the rookery in north Tampa in early June for my last trip of the nesting season. I wasn’t sure if there would still be any babies at this point or would they all be grown up by now. The first thing I saw at the edge of the pond was this tiny gator trying to hide in the vegetation. Even though he was small I still kept my eye on him while I was there.

This cattle egret looks like he has a boo boo on his face.  Hopefully it’s just superficial and heals. Maybe he got it in a fight with another egret?

The baby anhingas were already fully grown.

There were still a few little blue herons flirting so there may still be some babies later.

A baby night heron emerged from deep in the bushes.

These flowers were growing all over the rookery as well as along the woods next to street. The ants seemed to be enjoying them.

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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.

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