It’s gotten hot out! The sweltering heat and the waning activity at my backyard birdcam inspired me to review my video archives from the spring. From bathing buntings to squabbling finches to courting cardinals to baby Brown Thrashers, my camera has caught it all! Enjoy! :)
I’ve had this still image from the birdcam in my “to post” folder for a couple of years now. I’m finally going to do it! Here’s a shot of what a birdcam captures after hours when nobody else is looking!
There aren’t many places in Florida where you see see five types of plovers in one morning. Fort De Soto is one of those places, if you go at the right time of year. In the spring, the Wilson’s Plovers and Snowy Plovers are getting busy building their nests, and the Piping, Semipalmated, and Black-bellied Plovers are getting ready to migrate north. Early in May, you can find all five in their breeding colors.
The Semipalmated Plover winters in Florida. He’s one of the easiest to find in the winter month. As he comes into his breeding colors, he develops dark black markings around his face and neck, which make it easy to confuse him with the Piping Plover.
Piping Plovers winter in Florida too. They are lighter and “cuter” than Semipalms. That may sound like a funny description, but when you see them together on the beach, it makes sense. Piping Plovers have typically migrated to their northern plains breeding areas by early May, but you can usually find a few stragglers. This little guy worried me when I saw that he was missing a foot. It didn’t seem to bother him. He foraged happily, pulled out plenty of worms from the sand, and flew away when a beachgoer with a dog came too close.
The Snowy Plovers are my favorites at Fort De Soto. They are as white as the sand, and they blend in so well that you can walk past a nest and not even notice. Here the plover was resting on a mudflat after a big breakfast. Their population in Florida is critically low, so I hope they are successful in nesting this year.
Only in the spring in Florida do you understand why this bird is called a Black-bellied Plover. He winters in Florida, and during most of the winter, his feathers are a pale gray. He molts into his breeding plumage just before flying off to Alaska and Northern Canada to nest. Here I caught one almost in full breeding plumage. So spiffy!
The Wilson’s Plover breeds in Florida. Sometimes he’ll have babies before his wintering counterparts have departed for their summer homes. I used to love to watch the babies run around at my favorite Least Tern colony.
So that’s the five plovers, but here’s a bonus bird – a Red Knot in breeding colors! He also passes by Fort De Soto on his epic migration from Argentina to northern Canada. Red Knot population has declined significantly due to habitat loss. So it’s a privilege to get to hang out with these beauties.
I could tell from his beak markings and partial breeding plumage that this was one of the birds I had seen earlier in the morning. Apparently he didn’t get enough fish at the wading ponds, because he kept pulling fish after fish out of the water.
I love watching these birds hunt. They throw their wings around to create shadows on the fish. The result is a fun dance that is always fun to photograph.
I seriously don’t understand how the bird could keep dancing and flying around with such a full belly.
The color of the gulf was so pretty that morning. I ended up sitting down in the very shallow water, which gave me a wonderful angle to the antics of this bird. The waves splashed and sparkled behind him while he contemplated his next move.
“Jump for Joy!” The ballerinas could take lessons from this bird. He has mastered the art of pointing his toes in mid-air!