The creation of a life is quite a special thing. My wife and I were blessed with two babies and I think she may agree they represent our greatest accomplishment as a couple. Our oldest baby has spent the past few days taking care of his two babies, two and four years old, who have been sick with a stomach virus. We long to be closer so we could help. The youngest of our babies just helped her 20-year old baby pack for a cross-country trip – four “20-somethings” driving from Florida to California. We share her pride in her baby and her sheer terror at letting him out the door.
As part of our recent efforts to assist in reporting on birds breeding in Florida (see our previous post: Breeding Bird Atlas), we have encountered nest building, egg laying, chick herding and the constant need of parents to feed bird babies. The experience has had an underlying feeling of deja vu about it, most likely due to our own adventures in raising babies. The project continues to be fun and we look forward to learning more about our avian counterparts.
Here are a few images from our last couple of outings.
A Sandhill Crane is a large bird and builds a large nest! Sorry for the poor image but I didn’t want to approach any closer and take a chance on disturbing her. (Him?)
Wooden utility poles offer a great place for woodpeckers to drill for insects and to excavate a cavity for a nest. This female Pileated Woodpecker is comfortable in her new home and is calling for hubby to bring home the groceries.
Typical of babies everywhere, a Common Gallinule chick yells at Mama. No reason. Babies just like to yell. Often.
A proud parent shows a young Sandhill Crane chick where to find the best bugs. “Remember this fence post, by the Lantana – good grasshoppers there!”
Recently fledged Purple Martins wait patiently for an adult to show up with a juicy morsel. You knew when that was about to happen as the young birds started chattering and flapping their new wings excitedly. The adult would swoop in, shove a bug into a gaping mouth, and zoom off to a nearby field to repeat the process. (As I said, not that different from the human experience!)
Limpkins are specialists. They feed primarily on large Apple snails and have a uniquely designed bill to help them open the snail shells. A young Limpkin followed his parent into the shallow water and watched how to find and catch a snail. The two flew back to the shore where the adult showed junior how to use that scissor-like bill to snip the bottom plate from the snail in order to extract the meat. Junior knew what to do next – snatch the escargot from Mom’s beak!
Immature White Ibises don’t become completely white until about the end of their second year. Until then, they can be overall brown and gradually more and more white feathers grow in. The belly remains white, which helps to distinguish them from a Glossy or White-faced Ibis.
Steppin’ out with Dad. These two looked like they just came out of a nearby house, strutted down the front walk and crossed the street to a pasture. (The photo is washed out as the rising sun was almost directly behind the birds, but I liked the image anyhow.)
Young Little Blue Herons aren’t blue. They’re white. They begin to change color during their first spring and take on a “calico” appearance such as this bird. During their all white stage, distinguish them from the similar Snowy Egret by bill and leg color and foraging behavior.
Okay, I know, these aren’t babies. They’re bunnies. Maybe they don’t belong in this post about babies, but, but — they’re BUNNIES! (Go ahead, tell me you didn’t look at ’em and go “awwww”.)
We’re really enjoying searching for breeding birds and we’re learning a lot in the process. Procreation and survival are the strongest of instincts and it’s been amazing to watch the birds put each into action.
From the moment each of our babies was conceived until now, we have been willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their survival. It will remain that way for the rest of our lives. It was difficult for us to urge them to leave the nest, but they have been flying on their own just fine. And we are proud of their success!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!