Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bulletin #65 – Sarasota FL #2 - raptors

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
February 7, 2009

Bulletin #65 – Sarasota Florida raptors

Hello friends,

I spent a week on Longboat Key in the Sarasota Florida area.

I used a guide here for a couple of mornings. His name is Rick Greenspun. His web site is -

I found and photographed several new birds on this trip. One of these was the Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum). There are 7 birds in this genus in the ABA area. All of them are relatively flat headed and tend to be secretive and hard to find. However, my guide knew a field where they were located and in the early morning they perch up for a short time and can be seen.

What struck me about this bird in the dawn light was the orange spot above the bill and the large eye-ring. The birds face and breast are caramel colored. This was a lifer for me. click ‘next’ once

At the same location, we found a Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum). This is a very common bird in Florida in winter and rather uncommon in the Houston area. Again, the morning light makes the bird look overall quite brown and even the yellow undertail doesn’t show up. The light can certainly play some tricks when trying to ID birds in the field.

This is the same bird taken with flash.

Next, I have a group of introduced/exotic birds that are not native to USA. They are still birds and can provide good subjects to show off their plumage, even if birders consider them as non-desirables. I remember reading that Roger Tory Peterson once said that ‘he never sees good photos of a House Sparrow’.

The first is Rock Dove (Columba livia). This is the pigeon that is all over urban areas virtually around the world. It comes in many color variations from white to brown to black. Sibley shows 5 colors in his book.

The first is the natural wild color in Europe – gray with 2 black bars on the wings.

The next he calls ‘checkered’ with white spots on the wings. This illustrates the beautiful iridescence on the neck.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) is a recently introduced species that colonized Florida from the Bahamas where they were brought in for the pet trade. They were too big, so the dealer just let them go into the wild. The have rapidly spread across North America. They are a large (13”) pale dove with black collar, and square white-tipped tail.

The next is the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). This European species was introduced into city parks and private ponds mostly in eastern North America and has become established. They have the beautiful S curved neck and hold their wings slightly above their body when swimming. I found a pair of them on a golf course in a water hazard. This was my first encounter with this bird since I started doing photography. The orange bill with big black knob is shown in the second photo. click ‘next’ once

The last exotic species is a parrot. They are many species of escaped parrots in USA especially in California and Florids. The Black-hooded Parakeet (Nandayus nenday) is native to the Pantanal wetland in southwestern Brazil where I have seen them. They are several small established populations in Sarasota and St. Petersburg on the west coast of Florida. If you look in Sibley, he shows them with a bright yellow eye-ring. The birds I saw didn’t have any eye-ring and I looked at other photos online and they don’t seem to have the eye-ring either.

Lastly was the 2nd best bird on the trip. My wife and I went to the Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. I took my regular camera to take some photos of the orchids and flowers. Just inside the gardens was this Eastern Screech-Owl (Otus asio) sleeping on a palm frond just off the path 5’ off the ground. He drew quite a numbers on photographers and onlookers. Fortunately I had my big lens in the car and retrieved it for this photo. He finally opened his eyes and looked right at the camera. Thus his eyes appear to follow you. I love this perspective.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2009 David McDonald

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