Oh, Baby !

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?)

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

 

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.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

 

Typical of babies everywhere, a Common Gallinule chick yells at Mama.  No reason.  Babies just like to yell.  Often.

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule

 

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!”

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

 

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!)

Purple Martin

Purple Martin

 

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!

Limpkin

Limpkin

 

 

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.

White Ibis

White 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.)

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

 

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.

Little Blue Heron (Immature)

Little Blue Heron (Immature)

 

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”.)

Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail

 

 

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!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “Oh, Baby !

  1. I loved this post Wally…

  2. Wonderful!! (Awwww….) Do you have “Sandhill Crossing” signs in your area, since they’re a threatened species? We do down here… 🙂

    And you have cottontails up there! We only have marsh rabbits down here — at least, those are the ones I mainly see! WONDERFUL pics.

    • Thank you! I haven’t seen any crane crossing signs around here, but our local area is blessed with a pretty robust Sandhill population. Hope we can keep it that way!

  3. You know I was awwwwwwing over the bunnies! I saw a mama and a baby one today. The little one slipped right through the chain-link fence, but mama had a bit of a harder time. Wonderful photos. The Limpkin is a big baby!

    • We really appreciate your visit! The Limpkin “babies” are almost at the stage where they will be fending for themselves. Probably another 3-4 weeks at most. It’s hard to avoid taking pictures of bunnies!

  4. What wonderful photos. They’re all fantastic but the one of the sandhill cranes “stepping out” tickled me.

  5. Here we go – Aawww factor ten out of ten. Hey you got the pecker but I got more holes. I really liked the cranes heading out to the shops along your drive. And whole bunnies too when I only got pictures of the pieces the Buzzards left.

    I so agree with you that we animals are all so alike, especially since we all had the same origins all those years ago. But Wally why do our kids take twenty or thirty years to fledge when birds can do it in a few days or weeks?

    • Phil, thank you very much for the nice remarks! Our kids take so long to fledge because we are not as steadfast as our avian parent counterparts!

  6. Hi Wally, your dedication to your family is so touching- they are lucky to have you!

    Once again you aim to teach the importance of nature and conservation with your marvelous photos and knowledge. Thank you for all that you do Wally. Please tell you wife I appreciate her efforts also ~:)

  7. Once again you’ve captured some stellar images.

    Nothing brings more comfort than seeing my children successful and happy. For me, it’s 2 out of 3. :/

  8. Fabulous baby pics!

  9. I love this post! And bookmarked it for (hopefully ) helping me with bird ID in case I am lucky enough to see that juvie heron…I never knew that before.

    But what I loved the most was the raising offspring theme! I had so many of those thoughts as we watched the eagle nest near us earlier in the season …but even in my own mind I wasn’t able to articulate my thoughts as beautifully as you did here!

    Just so much fun to read. Thank you.

    • Sallie, thank you very much for those wonderful comments! I really enjoyed watching “your” eaglets this year on the nest cam. I couldn’t believe how fast they grew up! Just like human babies!

  10. What a great group of photos and stories. We have a pair of sandhill cranes not fat from us. They nest every year…but fail. Maybe this year, I would love to see one of those babies!

    • Hi, Dave! Thank you for visiting and for your nice comments. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your cranes this year!

  11. So many cute babies. You are keeping your eyes open! I agree with Theresa the teen following his parent is my fav.

    • It’s a challenge to find nests and babies! A different perspective than just trying to identify a bird. But fun!

  12. a fine bunch again! i loved the big crane and teen crane strutting down the driveway! so cool!

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