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Everglades Winter Birds

Thu, Feb 06, 2014 at 03:46:17 PM

Ospreys, once known as fish hawks, return to the same nest year after year. Likewise we return to the same birding spot year after year. With great satisfaction, we can report that the pair of osprey in Eco Pond in Everglades National Park has again successfully produced a youngster. Maybe more than one, but we only saw one small head rise above the sides of the huge and high nest. The remarkable thing about these birds is that the soles of their claws are spiny and the front outer talon is able to move forward or back to better hold a fish.

Osprey parent and chick
Osprey parent and chick

A Caribbean “race” may have an all white head rather than a head with brown markings on top, according to some bird experts. Females of this type may have a light brown necklace. Both male and female birds have a dark eye stripe. During the Florida Keys and Wildlife Festival, Rafael Galvez, director of the Florida Hawk Watch, and David Simpson, bird guide, spotted an osprey with nearly a full white head flying at Long Key State Park. Other birds with similar marking also have been seen and photographed. In “Birds of Southern Florida”, G. Michael Flieg and Allan Sander say the Florida osprey “is entirely white headed and totally white below.” The birds I saw today were white below, with an eye stripe, but I couldn’t get a clear view of the tops of their heads.

Osprey in Flight
Osprey in Flight

The youngster was so high up and far away, that I was able to see only the beginnings of an eye stripe.

Sharing the waters and trees of Eco Pond were roseate spoonbills, wood storks, ibis, black-necked stilts, snowy egrets, an American coot and blue-winged teals.

The only action at Anhinga Trail: birders covering their cars with blue tarps now provided by the park, along with bungee cords. A few black vultures already have learned to peck away at the tarps as well as the rubber around windows and windshields and windshield wipers.


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