As we celebrate Labor Day and the end of summer, it’s a good time to review the backyard birdcam. This video is very different than the Spring 2023 birdcam video! Things slow down a lot in the summertime. The cardinals visit regularly for an early-morning bath. The Brown Thrasher nesting attempts failed, and they found better places to hang out. A family of House Finches became regulars. The Eastern Bluebirds hang out on the golf course but haven’t visited the yard. The best action has been in the past few days, either as a result of the changing seasons, or possibly as a result of Hurricane Idalia. In addition to my first-of-fall Painted Bunting, I’ve seen the Brown Thrasher return, along with visits from the Tufted Titmouse.
The light is definitely changing, the days are getting shorter, and I smell fall in the breeze (Rich says I’m crazy). It’ll just be a few more weeks before the warblers return!
I haven’t posted in a while – it’s been HOT and I’ve been busy! I will get back into the swing of bird photography as the weather cools and the birds return to sunny FL!
But today I had a fun surprise that I just have to share. Usually my first of fall Painted Bunting comes in the first week or two of October. If you search back on the blog, you’ll see a pattern for at least the last 10 years. So you can imagine my delight when I looked out this morning (August 31) to see a male Painted Bunting at the bird bath. :)
Buntings do start to show up in this area around this time, but it’s a first for my yard. It’s also possible that this little guy found his way here yesterday as a result of Hurricane Idalia. He’s not the only one possibly misplaced by the storm. The birders on the west coast of FL are enjoying all the Flamingos showing up on the beaches today!
This little bird and I hope that all the refugees of Hurricane Idalia find shelter, a good meal, and a birdbath as they find their way back to normal.
In mid-May, I went to Fort De Soto to check on the American Oystercatcher nest. I had never seen baby oystercatchers before. I took my long lens and teleconverters so that I could lie in the sand and not bother the birds. When I got there, I spotted an adult oystercatcher splashing in the wading pool. He flew off a minute later and landed next to…tiny fuzzballs!
The proud parents are mom AE, who was banded in Georgia, and dad “Archie.” They were very attentive to their little ones. So the babies got to hang out and learn about the beach without worrying about the laughing gulls and other nearby predators.
According to the other photographers, one baby was two days old and the other baby one day old. Everybody was mesmerized by the tiny balls of fluff. Until a third one showed up! Apparently Mom had stopped incubating the last egg, and nobody thought the baby had hatched, until the newborn joined the party at the wading pools! Mom briefly tried to take him under her wing, and she gave me a magical moment with all three babies together.
Breakfast was the first priority of the morning. It’s hard work finding tiny clams for tiny chicks! Mom and Dad outdid themselves, pulling morsel after morsel from the water.
My favorite moments were when the babies would play together. The newborn wore out pretty quickly and took long naps in the sand. The two older chicks chased each other. It was like a never-ending game of Tag.
Rough-housing with your brother teaches you important survival skills, like how to keep your balance. Or at least how to roll gracefully when you topple over in the sand!
Mom and Dad stuffed those little birds full of breakfast. Then the babies napped in the sand while Mom and Dad hung out nearby.
It was hard to tear myself away, but the paparazzi crowd grew bigger as the morning went on, and it got to be too much (for me and for the birds!) It was such a joy to see the babies though. American Oystercatchers are a threatened species in Florida, in part due to habitat loss. Hopefully other nesting oystercatchers are as successful as this family. These chicks are now banded as YA4, YA5, and YA6. Report them if you see them!