Great Crested Flycatcher Nest!

Great Crested Flycatcher on Nest Box

Great Crested Flycatcher with Dragonfly for Babies

Inside the Nest Box (Babies Hunkered Down)

Flycatcher Baby Fledgling After Leaving Nest

We are so excited to have a pair of great crested flycatchers nesting in our yard! For identification, look for the bird’s pretty lemon-yellow belly.  The picture inside the nest box was taken with our tiny Insta360 ONE camera.  We could see 3 babies in the nest at the bottom (middle).  Surrounding the babies are the flycatcher’s unique nesting materials – lots of feathers and even a bit of black and white fur (upper right).  Flycatchers are well known for weaving snakeskins into their nest, and this one has one too – how exciting!  The nest also has two round white empty mud dauber pots (top).  I wish we had gotten a picture of the eggs – they are creamy brown with purple squiggles on them.  Maybe next year!  A previous post about flycatchers is at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/great-crested-flycatchers-are-nesting/

Florida in Spring: Nesting Herons and Other Dark Birds

Great Blue Heron Pair on Nest

Great Blue Heron Nest Building on Tree Tops

Male Anhinga’s Beautiful Green and Blue Eye Colors in Spring

Fuzzy Anhinga Babies in Nest

Double Crested Cormorants Have Turquoise Blue Mouths During Breeding Season

Beautiful Iridescent Colors of Glossy Ibis

Green Backed Heron in Marsh

Yellow Crowned Night Heron in Tree with Spanish Moss

Juvenile White Phase of Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron Transition from White Phase to Adulthood Plumage

Adult Little Blue Heron’s Dark Feather Colors

Tricolored Heron’s Crest Feathers

Adult Tricolored Heron’s Beautiful Blue Color During Breeding Season

Juvenile Tricolored Heron’s Funny Face

Tricolored Heron Baby Hello!

Paired with my other post about Florida’s egrets and other white birds in spring, this post is about herons and dark feathered birds during nesting season.  These colorful birds and their babies make me smile! 

Florida in Spring: Nesting Egrets and Other White Birds

Snowy Egret Breeding Feather Plumes

Snowy Egret Funny Face

Snowy Egret Plumed Head Feathers

Snowy Egret Golden Slipper Feet

Snowy Egret Face Breeding Colors

Snowy Egret Babies

Cattle Egret Breeding Colors

Cattle Egret Face

Great Egret Face Breeding Colors

Great Egret Feather Plumes

Great Egret with Outstretched Wing

Great Egret Babies

Great Egret Baby Hello

White Ibis Face Breeding Colors

Wood Stork on Nest

Wood Stork Family (3 babies)

We love our Florida birds, especially in spring.  This post shows egrets and other white birds during nesting season, when feathers are plumed and colors are bright.  If you are lucky, you will see great egrets, snowy egrets, and cattle egrets together in one big breeding colony – it is quite a sight!  Sometimes wood storks and white ibis nest there too!

Purple Martin Babies!

Purple Martin Nesting Gourds

Martins Collecting Pine Needles for Nest

Bird’s Eye View from Inside Gourd

 

Five Eggs in Nest

Newly Hatched Babies (Pinkies)

Growing Purple Martin Babies

Older Babies with Pinfeathers

Parents Bring Bugs to Growing Babies

Babies Waiting to be Fed

Hungry Baby with Mouth Wide Open

Rainbow Over Purple Martin Gourds

We have so many purple martin babies!  Did a backyard count here in Florida and the grand total for our nesting colony is 201 purple martins (107 babies, 22 eggs, and 72 adults).  Ages range from eggs to newborn pinkies to older babies with pinfeathers.  Love this time of year!  Learn more from the Purple Martin Conservation Association at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/

UPDATE May 16, 2020:  Lots of babies fledging this week!  Constant activity at the nesting gourds – great time of year!

Florida: Backyard Wildlife

Male Painted Bunting and Cardinal

Female Painted Bunting

Male Wild Turkey with Beard Feathers

Sandhill Crane

Peahen (female peacock)

Whitetail Deer

Armadillo

Raccoon Babies at Door

 

We love the variety of wildlife in our backyard here in Florida.  So much fun! 

Florida: Rare Atala Butterfly Sighting

Atala Butterfly on Coontie

Atala Butterfly after Emerging from Cocoon

The Atala butterfly was thought to be extinct in Florida until a small colony was discovered in Miami in 1979.  This beautiful iridescent butterfly was protected and expanded its range over time.  We saw this rare butterfly for the first time in Sebastian a couple of weeks ago.  The Atala’s only native host for its eggs is the coontie – a small palm-like cycad.  If you live in Florida and want to do your part to help the Atala hairstreak butterfly, plant a few low-maintenance coonties in your yard.  The butterflies will travel miles to find these host plants by smell!  Locally, Busy Bee Nursery in Vero Beach sells coonties and regularly holds butterfly gardening seminars:  http://archive.tcpalm.com/specialty-publications/vero-beach/careful-gardener-uncovers-rare-butterfly-species-in-indian-river-county-ep-1233688624-340516281.html

Cute Baby Raccoons

Baby Raccoon Climbing Tree

Baby Raccoon in Bird Feeder

Baby Raccoon Face

Mama raccoon in our Florida backyard now has four little babies – what a handful!  The babies play, wrestle, and roll around together.  They are like puppies, except they climb.  One time I caught them swinging in the hammock at night for fun!  I was surprised to go outside recently and see this baby raccoon inside the bird feeder.  Even so, they are really cute.

UPDATE JUNE 2018:  A raccoon made the national news because she climbed a 25 story skyscraper in Minnesota!  Read about it at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/us/mpr-raccoon-building-climb.html

Florida: Cute Baby Sandhill Crane

Baby Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane Family

Look who showed up at our house this week – the sandhill crane family.  The baby crane is so cute!

 

Florida: Mama Owl is Nesting!

Eastern Screech Owl

Yellow Rose

Mama screech owl has been in her nest box all week – she is here to stay.  Nesting season has arrived – it is spring in Florida!

Florida Manatees in Winter

Mother and Baby Manatees at Homosassa Springs

Mother Manatee Nursing Baby Underwater

Manatee at Crystal River

Manatees Have Good Eyesight

Manatees Have Sensitive Bristles on Body and Breathe Through Two Round Nostrils

Manatees Have Flexible Lips to Grab Sea Grass

Manatees Drink Fresh Rainwater

Manatees Have Round Paddle-like Tails

Florida manatees are easy to spot in winter because they congregate in springs and canals to stay warm.  Famous places to see them include the Three Sisters Spring at Crystal River (http://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org/) and Blue Spring State Park (https://www.savethemanatee.org/manatees/manatee-webcams/).

Sea cows live 40-60 years and are related to elephants.  They weigh up to 1200 pounds and use their flexible, sensitive snouts to graze on sea grass. Their whiskers can feel water ripples that are smaller than a human hair!  They surface frequently to breathe air through two round nostrils.  Manatees do not have eyelashes, and close their eyes in a circular motion like the aperture of a camera.  Manatees move through the water by pumping their round paddle-like tails up and down.  They communicate with a series of chirps, whistles, and squeaks.  Kids especially love these slow moving, gentle giants.  Fun info and activities for kids is at (https://www.savethemanatee.org/manatees/education-materials/student-resources/.   Learn more at:  https://www.savethemanatee.org/

Warm Florida Beaches

Sebastian Beach Waves

View of Sebastian Beach from Pier

Seagull with Mouthful of Fish

Sanderling Running with Waves

Shell Pile-up Near Pier

Brown Pelican Flying

Inlet Side Opposite Beach

Two-Tone Water where Indian River Meets Atlantic Ocean

Gopher Tortoise Eating Grass

The weather is perfect here in Florida!  Migrating birds have arrived, and it is a beautiful time for a walk at Sebastian Inlet State Park.

Nature Outside My Window

Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Group of Cactus Flowers

Cactus Wrapped Around Sabal Palm

Wildlife Cam: Raccoon Trio

Wildlife Cam: Deer Peekaboo

Wildlife Cam: Tom Turkey

Wildlife Cam: Mother Turkey (right) and Chick (left)

Wildlife Cam: Mottled Duck

Wildlife Cam: Cardinals, Blue Jay, and Woodpecker

It is amazing how much nature is visible outside my home office window.  Since it is summer, we are enjoying a spectacular show of cactus flowers every night.  The automatic wildlife camera captured these raccoons playing beside the flowers.  During the day the female white-tailed deer was caught visiting the same spot, as well as wild turkeys, mottled ducks, and many other birds.  I always have handy a flashlight, binoculars, and camera to look at and capture any surprises I might see.  

Great Crested Flycatchers are Nesting

Great Crested Flycatcher in Nest Box

Raccoon Enjoying Fruit Tray

Raccoon Looking at Snake Skin

A pair of great crested flycatchers recently moved into the woodpecker/screech owl nest box in our backyard. These birds with lemon bellies have very unique calls – usually you hear them before you see them (listen at: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Crested_Flycatcher/sounds).  

If flycatchers find a snakeskin, they always weave it into their nest.  We got lucky and found one, so we placed it on a tray along with fresh fruit for the birds.  The flycatchers ignored the goodies, but the raccoon thought it was the best treat ever!  

Purple Martin Babies!

Purple Martin Babies #1

Purple Martin Babies #2

Purple Martin Babies #3

Purple Martin Babies #4

Purple martin babies are hatching here in Florida!  We have 23 active nests in 24 gourds.  Definitely putting up a new rack next year.  Our totals are 43 eggs, 64 babies, and 46 adults, for a grand total of 153 purple martins!  You can watch our live cam video clip of the tiny babies being fed at:  https://ring.com/share/3017928363  The top two pictures show the youngest birds, and the bottom two pictures show slightly older hatchlings.  Notice how the older birds have more defined eyes and pinfeathers starting to grow in.  The youngest birds are affectionately called “pinkies” by purple martin landlords.

Neighborhood Peacocks

Peacock's Fanned Tail

Peacock’s Fanned Tail

Peacock with Train

Peacock with Train

Peahen (female) and Peacock (male)

Peahen (female) and Peacock (male)

Peafowl Family on Florida Neighborhood Wall

Peafowl Family on Florida Neighborhood Wall

Peachick

Peachick

Peacock's Corona Feathers on Head

Peacock’s Corona Feathers on Head

Peacock and Hyacinths

Peacock Preening

Stunning Peacock Tail Feather "Eyes"

Stunning Peacock Tail Feather “Eyes”

Some neighborhoods near us in Florida are home to free roaming peacocks.  Some people love them, and some think the birds are a tad bit noisy.  At any rate, I always enjoy seeing these spectacular birds!  

If you would like to see some unbelievably gorgeous macrophotographs of iridescent peacock feathers, go to:  http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2016/03/macro-peacock-feather-photography/  

Florida: Sandhill Cranes are Dancing!

"Braided" Feathers Under Sandhill Crane Eye

“Braided” Feathers Under Sandhill Crane Eye

Sandhill Crane Looking at You

Sandhill Crane Looking at You

Sandhill Crane Back of Head

Sandhill Crane Back of Head

Sandhill Cranes Dancing

Sandhill Cranes Dancing

Sandhill Cranes Bill Clack

Sandhill Cranes Bill Clack

Sandhill Crane Feathers Display

Sandhill Crane Feathers Display

We know it is spring here in Florida when the sandhill cranes start dancing!

Dinosaur-like Green Iguana

Green Iguana Eye

Green Iguana Eye

Green Iguana Sunning on Rock

Green Iguana Sunning on Rock

Green Iguana in Garden

Green Iguana in Garden

We saw this adult male green iguana on a recent day trip to South Florida.  He is stunning!  Looking at his eye feels like looking at a living dinosaur.  What an amazing creature!  These Florida exotics originate from South America.  They can reach 6 feet long (look at that striped tail!) and weigh up to 18 pounds. 

BEST Wildlife Cam Surprise Ever!!!

BOBCAT SURPRISE!!!

BOBCAT SURPRISE!!!

Merry Christmas Raccoons

Merry Christmas Raccoons

Raccoons Climbing on Santa

Raccoons Climbing on Santa

Raccoon and Santa

Raccoon and Santa

Opossum and Santa

Opossum and Santa

Bunnies and Santa

Bunnies and Santa

Cardinal and Painted Bunting by Santa

Cardinal and Painted Bunting by Santa

Mourning Dove Flash

Mourning Dove Flash

Cardinal Flying

Cardinal Flying

Wild Turkeys and Mottled Ducks

Wild Turkeys and Mottled Ducks

Sandhill Crane and Raccoon

Sandhill Crane and Raccoon

We had the BEST surprise on our automatic wildlife camera EVER!!!  A bobcat walked right in front of our Santa outside!  Wow!  I about fell off my chair when I was looking over the pictures from the night before.  Some of our other recent pictures are here too, including Merry Christmas raccoons.  Have a great holiday!

Florida Snakes

Colorful Corn Snake

Colorful Corn Snake

Close-up of Corn Snake Scales

Close-up of Corn Snake Scales

Yellow Rat Snake in Grass

Yellow Rat Snake in Grass

Yellow Rat Snake in Nesting Gourd

Yellow Rat Snake in Nesting Gourd

Beautiful Rough Green Snake

Beautiful Rough Green Snake

Tiny Ringneck Snake

Tiny Ringneck Snake

Curled Tail Revealing Orange Underside

Curled Tail Revealing Orange Underside

Black Racer Zig-Zag Following Grooves in Wall

Black Racer Zig-Zag Following Grooves in Wall

Shy Eastern Coral Snake

Shy Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Close-up of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Close-up of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Since it is that creepy-crawly time of year, here are pictures of snakes that we have seen in Florida over the years.  Sightings are actually few and far between.  The most beautiful snake we’ve seen is the Rough Green Snake.  The biggest and scariest snake we’ve seen is the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (we were in the car and this several-foot-long snake crawled across the dirt road in front of us).  The majority of Florida snakes are nonvenomous, and all native snakes play an important part in the environment.  In this collection only the last two – the Coral Snake and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – are venomous.  And in case you want to know, venomous snakes have cat-eye or narrow slit pupils, and nonvenomous ones have round pupils.

Florida: Beautiful Beach Weather!

Waves at Sebastian Beach

Waves at Sebastian Beach

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle

Manatee Snort

Manatee Snort

Spotted Ray

Spotted Ray

Snook Surrounded by Tiny Greenies

Snook Surrounded by Tiny Greenies

Needlefish

Needlefish

Orange Boring Sponge

Orange Boring Sponge

Sebastian Inlet Bridge

Sebastian Inlet Bridge

Beautiful Turquoise Water

Beautiful Turquoise Water

We make frequent trips to Sebastian Inlet State Park, Florida, to walk out on the fishing pier and stroll on the beach.  The water is especially pretty right now, and there is always lots to see!  You can view a live cam at:  http://www.sebastianinletcam.com/

Florida: Gorgeous Beach Day!

Boardwalk to Beach

Boardwalk to Beach

Summer Day at Sebastian Beach

Summer Day at Sebastian Beach

Marked Sea Turtle Nest Sites

Marked Sea Turtle Nest Sites

Sea Turtle Nest Caution Sign

Sea Turtle Nest Caution Sign

Sea Turtle Nest Totals

Sea Turtle Nest Totals

Today was a gorgeous day at Sebastian Beach, Florida.  The weather and water are warm, and the sea turtles are busy nesting at night.  In fact as of today, the area has recorded the second highest count ever of documented sea turtle nests.  Scientists rope off the nest sites to keep the eggs safe until the turtles hatch.  Great time of year!

UPDATE:  Final sea turtle nesting totals at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge on August 27, 2016, are:  Loggerhead – 20,376; Green – 1,295; Leatherback – 72, and Kemp’s Ridley – 1.

Florida: Pink Baby Spoonbills!

Group of Birds Onshore

Group of Birds Onshore

Spoonbill Family

Spoonbill’s Pink “Angel” Wings

Spoonbill and Baby

Roseate spoonbills are one of our favorite birds in Florida.  The babies are born with pink skin, which Is quickly covered with fluffy down.  We recently saw groups of the babies leaving their nests and feeding along the shore at Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area (Stick Marsh Critical Wildlife Area) near Fellsmere, Florida.  What a treat!

Florida: Year Round White Pelicans

White Pelicans at Goodwin Marsh in Summer

White Pelicans at Goodwin Marsh in Summer

White Pelicans in Shallow Water

White Pelicans in Shallow Water

White Pelican with Unique Water Reflections

White Pelican with Unique Water Reflections

Recently we’ve noticed there is still a flock of 2 dozen white pelicans at Goodwin Marsh near our home in Palm Bay, Florida.  The white pelicans have been hanging out there for months – long past the time they should have migrated to breeding grounds in the far north for summer.  I wrote the Treasure Coast Audubon Society and was told that we are fortunate to have some isolated groups of white pelicans stay year round in Brevard County and at Lake Okeechobee.  There are also a few white pelican colonies that stay year round along the Texas coast.  Love these magnificent birds!

Purple Martin Nests and Babies!

Adult Male Purple Martin Looking Out Nesting Gourd Entrance Hole (note iridescent purple feathers)

Adult Male Purple Martin Looking Out Nesting Gourd Entrance Hole (note iridescent purple feathers)

Hungry Babies

Hungry Babies

Baby Ready to be Fed - Still Partially in Shell!

Baby Ready to be Fed – Still Partially in Shell!

Hatchling Hug

Hatchling Hug

Looking through Gourd’s Entrance Hole (love the “lips”)

Looking through Gourd’s Entrance Hole (love the “lips”)

Leaf-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Bark-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Bark-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Cedar Chip Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Cedar Chip Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Cedar Chip Nest Containing 3 Eggs (probably a first-time nester)

Cedar Chip Nest Containing 3 Eggs (probably a first-time nester)

Frog on Nesting Gourd

Frog on Nesting Gourd

Silhouette of Purple Martin Gourd Rack and Sky:  All Tucked-In for Night (click to enlarge for details)

Silhouette of Purple Martin Gourd Rack and Sky: All Tucked-In for Night (click to enlarge for details)

Last weekend we did a nest check of our two purple martin gourd racks.  So far we have a total of 11 nests containing 49 babies and eggs!  There are also 4 more early nests that may or may not progress on to eggs within the next 2 weeks.  One nest contained a baby that wriggled out of its egg as we watched.  The baby even opened its mouth to be fed while it was still partially in the shell!  The birds seem to have their own individual nest styles. Some martin parents gather lots of leaves, some add hard red bark to the nest, and others simply lay eggs on the cedar chips provided as a base.  Each nest usually contains 3-6 eggs.  Love this time of year!  If you would like to host your own purple martins, more info is at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/education/75/getting-started/.

Big Fuzzy Anhinga Babies!

Three Fuzzy Anhinga Babies

Three Fuzzy Anhinga Babies

Feeding Time for Babies

Feeding Time for Babies

Nest of Anhinga Babies in Treetop

Nest of Anhinga Babies in Treetop

Female Anhinga

Female Anhinga

Male Anhinga in Beautiful Breeding Plumage

Male Anhinga in Beautiful Breeding Plumage

Anhinga babies are so fuzzy!  The birds are nesting in the treetops now at the Viera Wetlands, Florida.  Anhingas are also known as water turkeys or snake birds (because of the way they stick their long necks above water when hunting for fish).  The babies sleep by tucking their heads over their backs and down into their feathers.  Their parents have quite a time feeding them.  Neat birds! 

Vultures are Important, Too!

Black Vulture Portrait

Black Vulture Portrait

A "Committee" of Black Vultures on Tree Limb

A “Committee” of Black Vultures on Tree Limb

Black Vulture Pair

Turkey Vulture Portrait

Turkey Vulture Portrait

Solitary Turkey Vulture on Post

Solitary Turkey Vulture on Post

Gold Egyptian Vulture Jewelry

Gold Egyptian Vulture Jewelry

Vultures are generally underappreciated birds in Florida. Two species live here – the black vulture and the turkey vulture. Both fill a very important role in the ecosystem as nature’s clean-up crew! These birds help stop the spread of disease, and their bodies actually neutralize biotoxins.

Both have featherless heads, which helps keep them clean when eating carrion. The black vulture is named for its black head, and the turkey vulture is named for its red head (reminiscent of the American wild turkey). Black vultures locate carrion by sight and often feed in groups along the road. Turkey vultures locate carrion by smell (up to a mile away!) and feed alone.

Both species are monogamous and form long term pair bonds. They have no vocal chords and communicate by a series of hisses, grunts, and woofs. Black vultures do not build nests and sometimes lay eggs directly on the ground; they take care of their babies for up to 8 months. Turkey vultures build rough nests in cooler out-of-the-way places; their babies disperse within 3 months.  

A group of vultures spiraling together is called a “kettle”. Turkey vultures have been known to soar up to 20,000 feet on air thermals without even flapping their wings. Although turkey vultures migrate, black vultures tend to stay put.

Ancient Egyptians revered the vulture and protected it from harm. Egyptian headdresses and jewelry often feature a vulture image to symbolize maternal shelter and protection.

Florida: We Like Alligators

Young Alligator Face

Young Alligator Face

Big Gator in Swamp

Big Gator in Swamp

Pair of Alligators: Foot on Face

Pair of Alligators: Foot on Face

Alligator Hug

Alligator Hug

Toothly Face in Pile of Alligators

Toothly Face in Pile of Alligators

White Leucistic Alligator

White Leucistic Alligator

Albino Alligator

Gator Torso Vibration During Mating Display

Gator Torso Vibration During Mating Display

Egret Riding an Alligator

Egret Riding an Alligator

Vintage Postcard: Big Joe Alligator

Vintage Postcard: Big Joe Alligator

Vintage Postcard: Alligator Quartette Singing

Vintage Postcard: Alligator Quartette Singing

Vintage Postcard: Alligator Chorus

Vintage Postcard: Alligator Chorus

Vintage Alligator Orange Fruit Crate Label

Vintage Alligator Orange Fruit Crate Label

In Florida we live with the largest reptile in North America –the American alligator.  I was surprised to learn that a published study in 2013 documented their use of tools.  It was found that during nesting season some alligators balance sticks on their heads to lure birds looking for nesting material.  Mid-April to May is prime mating season.  Courtship displays include head slapping, torso vibration, and bellowing (the sound travels for quite some distance).  Alligator mothers are devoted to protecting their eggs, and stay with their young for up to a year.  Their toothy “smiles” contain about 80 teeth.  Worn teeth are replaced with new ones, so an alligator can go through 2,000 teeth in a lifetime!  Occasionally an alligator visits our pond, but eventually it moves on to a new gator hole.  Alligators have always attracted the interest of tourists, and their images have been used for logos, mascots, and throughout pop culture.    Alligators are an important part of our Florida ecosystem, and we enjoy having them around. 

Florida in Winter

Sebastian Beach Ocean Waves

Sebastian Beach Ocean Waves

Black Skimmers Sunbathe Flat on Sand

Black Skimmers Sunbathe Flat on Sand

White Ibis at Lagoon

White Ibis at Lagoon

Laughing Gull with Mouth Open

Laughing Gull with Mouth Open

Pink Spoonbill and Blue Water

Pink Spoonbill and Blue Water

Lesser Scaup at Backyard Pond

Lesser Scaup at Backyard Pond

Tricolor Heron with Purple Eyes

Tricolor Heron with Purple Eyes

Great Blue Heron with Windblown Feathers

Great Blue Heron with Windblown Feathers

Bald Eagle and Black Vultures Near Home

Bald Eagle and Black Vultures Near Home

Alligator in Pond

Alligator in Pond

Double Rainbow Over Backyard

Double Rainbow Over Backyard

In Florida we enjoy an outdoor lifestyle year round.  Although it may get chilly from time to time when winter cold fronts blow through from the north, the weather usually warms back up to 70°F within a few days.  That means we go outside and enjoy the beach, gardens, and wildlife. 

Florida is home to over 500 species of birds, which makes it one of the top birdwatching destinations in the world.  Our local birding and wildlife festival is the largest in the nation!  Info about the festival is at:  http://www.spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org/   Come on down and enjoy nature in the Sunshine State!  

Screech Owl Dad to 50 Babies!

Gonzo the Screech Owl

Gonzo the Screech Owl

Gonzo Profile

Gonzo Profile

Fuzzy Owlet in Nesting Gourd in Our Backyard

Fuzzy Owlet in Nesting Gourd in Our Backyard

Baby Screech Owl (our mascot)

Baby Screech Owl (our mascot)

Fluffy Owlets in Yard

Fluffy Owlets in Yard

Baby Screech Owl Snuggled Next to Teddy Bear

Baby Screech Owl Snuggled Next to Teddy Bear

Gonzo the Eastern Screech Owl has lived at the Florida Wildlife Hospital for the past 12 years. Since he could not be released back into the wild, he has become a local ambassador for wildlife. He is especially busy during nesting season, because he acts as a foster parent and role model for rescued baby owls. This past year Gonzo set a record by acting as a surrogate Dad to over 50 babies! Gonzo feeds the fluffy owlets, and they observe and learn from him the behaviors that will help them survive in the wild. All of Gonzo’s adopted babies this year were successfully released back into nature. More info about the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary is at:  http://www.floridawildlifehospital.org/   

We’ve hosted several screech owl families in our Florida backyard (two pictures above are reposted favorites).  Owls are the absolute cutest!

Florida: Sebastian Beach and Fishing Jetty

Colorful Water at Sebastian Beach

Colorful Water at Sebastian Beach

Walking Out onto Sebastian Fishing Jetty

Walking Out onto Sebastian Fishing Jetty

Dark Area is School of Fantail Mullet Swimming Toward Jetty

Dark Area is School of Fantail Mullet Swimming Toward Jetty

Close-up of Fantail Mullet

Close-up of Fantail Mullet

Barracuda with Razor Sharp Teeth Swimming Along Jetty

Barracuda with Razor Sharp Teeth Swimming Along Jetty

Sea Turtle Head Above Water

Sea Turtle Head Above Water

Beautiful Pattern on Back of Sea Turtle Head

Beautiful Pattern on Back of Sea Turtle Head

Sanderlings Running Back and Forth with the Ocean Waves

Sanderlings Running Back and Forth with the Ocean Waves

Rare Frigatebird Sighting (notice red throat pouch)

Rare Frigatebird Sighting (notice red throat pouch)

Black Skimmer on Beach

Black Skimmer on Beach

Beach Morning Glory

Beach Morning Glory

We always enjoy visiting Sebastian Inlet State Park.  The beach is beautiful, and we never know what we’ll see from the fishing jetty.  More info is at: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Sebastian-Inlet

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