Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Knock, Knock! Goes the Pileated Woodpecker at the Circle B Bar Reserve

It was a good morning for baby birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I spent about an hour watching the Osprey nest on the Heron Hideout trail.  Then I moved on to the Alligator Alley trail, where I photographed the Red-Shouldered Hawk Nest.  The Northern Parulas taunted me but didn’t let me see them.  Then Dennis showed me the best nest of the morning: there’s a Pileated Woodpecker on eggs inside the old Barred Owl tree!

Last week, I saw the Osprey family on my way out, in mid-day light.  So today the nest was my first stop of the morning.  I love dawn at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The light of the sun comes peeking up over the horizon and slowly bathes the marshes in soft golden light.  All the birds call back and forth to each other softly, and the soft breezes feel cool because the sun isn’t blasting out its heat yet.  You would think it would get old, but every morning is different.  As I watched the sun rise, the Osprey family enjoyed a fish for breakfast.  Finally the sun was up enough to illuminate the nest, and Junior obligingly sat up and posed for me.

Osprey Mom and Baby

Osprey Mom and Baby

Both parents are quite protective of their little chick.  They are either on the nest, gathering food, or sitting in a tree just to the right of the nest.  Papa brought back several twigs for the nest, as well as two fish.  I had to laugh when he chased off an Anhinga, who had come to sit at the top of a tree near me, but he didn’t bother the Red-Shouldered Hawk who immediately landed in an adjacent tree.  Chase off the bird who can’t land straight to save his life, but let the raptor stay.  Birds are funny sometimes!

Osprey Family

Osprey Family

Next I headed back to the parking lot and off to the Alligator Alley trail.  On my way I stopped to listen to the Tufted Titmice who were hopping around in the oak trees.  It’s been a while since I’ve photographed one of these little guys at Circle B.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

The Alligator Alley trail was really quiet this morning.  I didn’t see many birds at all until I got to the Red-Shouldered Hawk nest (the “good one” that is close to the trail).  At first I thought the nest was empty, and a fledgling sat on a nearby branch and screamed for his mother.

Red-Shouldered Hawk Fledgling

Red-Shouldered Hawk Fledgling

As always, two minutes after I stepped away from the apparently empty nest, Mama came back and the nest came alive.  The baby popped up from within the nest, and his brother the fledgling came back, and both posed with Mom for a minute in the nest.  (I missed it! :-()  Mom brought a snake in for the baby, and I think she told the fledgling to beat it and let his brother eat, because the fledgling headed back to his branch.  That left the baby alone with his snake…mmm.  When he finished it, he grabbed a lizard and ate that, too.  Squirt wants!!

Red-Shouldered Hawk Baby

Red-Shouldered Hawk Baby

I moved along to the old tree that the Barred Owls nested in a month or two ago.  It’s covered in woodpecker holes, and it didn’t surprise me to hear that people had seen Pileateds coming in and out of it, as if they were nesting.  I watched for a while, and sure enough, a Pileated stuck his head out of one of the holes.  I think he wanted to know who was knocking on his tree—a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, who quickly flew off.  (Apparently the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks have also considered using the cavities in this tree for nesting, but they too were run off by the Pileated.)  So I hope to go back soon and see little Pileated babies.  Wouldn’t that be cool!?!? :)

Pileated Woodpecker Nesting site

Pileated Woodpecker Nesting site

Species List: American Coot, Anhinga, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Boat-tailed Grackle, Common Moorhen, Double-crested Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Great-Crested Flycatcher (heard), Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Parula, Pileated Woodpecker, Osprey, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Heron, Tufted Titmouse, White Ibis, Wood Duck