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A Third Pied-Billed Grebe Nest at Lake Apopka

This summer at Lake Apopka, I’ve been keeping an eye on a far-off lump of dirt.  It’s positioned far off in the marsh, behind several layers of vegetation.  You have to position yourself carefully in one specific location to get a semi-obstructed view of this little island floating on the water.  Why the interest in this particular location?  Well, it’s a third Pied-billed Grebe nest!

Pied-billed Grebe on Nest

Pied-billed Grebe Nest

I first noticed the nest on July 1.  This is a highly cropped image taken with the Beast and a 2x teleconverter.  I checked on the nest with each subsequent visit.

The First Two Babies

The First Two Babies

On July 2, I spotted two tiny babies sitting on the nest under Mom’s tummy. You could hear their tiny peep-peep-peeps clearly all the way across the water.  But the intriguing thing was that Mom continued to incubate, and before I left, I saw her turning some additional eggs…

Turning the Eggs

Turning the Eggs

On July 4, there were additional babies wiggling on the nest.  It was hard to get a clear picture, but there are clearly four little heads sticking out from under Mom.  She had her hands full with that family!

Four Little Heads

Four Little Heads at the Pied-billed Grebe Nest

The nest was empty on my following visits.  I spotted the birds nearby, but they quickly found ways to hide in the dense vegetation.  I keep hearing them, though, so I know they are doing well.  It’s been such fun following the grebe families on the wildlife drive this summer. :)

Summer Backyard Birding

We had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the backyard a few weeks ago!  She stayed for at least three days, eating voraciously at my nectar plants.  Her favorites were my fire bushes and coral honeysuckle.  I grabbed my camera and went out to see her…

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

It was a dark evening with a lot of cloud cover, but I managed to get a high enough shutter speed to freeze her wings as she nectared at the honeysuckle.  Planting honeysuckle over my photography blind was one of the best things I’ve done in the backyard!  All the birds seem to like the vine for its flowers, berries, and protective cover.

My American Beautyberry bush is beginning to put on berries.  All summer I’ve been trying to get good pictures of the baby cardinals in the backyard.  Finally I got a good opportunity as the juvenile cardinal posed on the beautyberry.

Juvenile Cardinal

Juvenile Cardinal

Then the cardinal moved to the bird feeder and started eating suet.  She flew so close to me that it was hard to focus on her, and I got some head shots as she stuffed her beak!

Juvenile Cardinal Head Shot

Juvenile Cardinal Head Shot

We have a new family of House Finches growing up in the backyard.  It’s fun to see the feeders covered with birds like they were this spring.  One House Finch paused on a shepherd’s crook to look at me…

House Finch

House Finch

This last shot is another one of the baby cardinal.  She flew over to the bird blind and started poking around.  I think she was hunting insects.  She has such an expression of curiosity on her face.  So cute, and so perfect for her!

Curiosity

Curiosity

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Beware the Red-winged Blackbirds! at LAWD

A few posts ago, I wrote about the Swallow-tailed Kites that have been visiting the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive fields this summer.  These graceful birds swoop through the air, feeding on insects.  They don’t seem to interact much with the local birds or the fields below.  So they didn’t seem to understand why the Red-winged Blackbirds began launching a full mid-air assault!

Red-winged Blackbird Attacks a Swallow-tailed Kite

Red-winged Blackbird Attacks a Swallow-tailed Kite

At first I thought the blackbirds were stealing bugs from the kites.  But then I noticed that the Red-wings had a nest near where the kites were flying.  So the males were defending their territory.  The kites didn’t seem to understand.

What's Your Problem?

What’s Your Problem?

In the photo above, the kite looks over his shoulder to see the little bird attacking him.  The Red-wings are such brave little guys.  It takes a lot of courage to attack a bird so much bigger than yourself!

Attack of Red-Winged Blackbird

Attack of Red-Winged Blackbird

When the Red-winged Blackbirds got too close, the kites seemed to swat at them with their long wings.  Despite the blackbirds’ best effort, the kites continued to glide over the fields.  So the blackbirds kept attacking…

Red-winged Blackbird Attacking Swallow-tailed Kite

Red-winged Blackbird Attacking Swallow-tailed Kite

This was such a fun morning.  Maybe not for the blackbirds, but it was for me.  It was very challenging to capture these interactions! :)

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