Posts Tagged With: yellow-bellied sapsucker

Over The River, Through The Woods, Under Construction

BEEP – BEEP – BEEP – BEEP

It can’t be time to get up already. We just went to bed. Ever the gentleman, I offered to let my bride sleep in an extra hour – or two. “No, let’s get going.” I’m pretty sure she was smiling. She tends to wake up happy. Now I felt guilty for wanting to sleep in – uhh, for being considerate and wanting HER to get some extra rest. Up and at ’em.

Our target today was about an hour’s drive south on the eastern edge of the community of Fort Meade in southern Polk County. The Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area is about 125 acres of hardwood forest along the banks of the Peace River. Visitors to the park will find a canoe launch, plenty of picnic tables, grills, large pavilions, rest rooms and a fair view of adjacent ponds and wetlands. We wanted to see if work had been completed on a trail which was planned from the park to the southwest for 2.5 miles through a wetlands and ending at another canoe launch point on the Peace River.

BEEP – BEEP – BEEP – BEEP

The lullaby of dump trucks backing up as they delivered loads of dirt suggested that construction was still ongoing. Oh, well. Maybe we should find another spot to explore this morning. Wait, what’s that? Hey, a small flock of Cedar Waxwings! The first we have seen this year. Most waxwings migrate further south but a few remain through the winter as long as the weather is mild. Look! A Northern Parula. And a Black-and-white Warbler, no, two, no, three! Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-rumped Warblers seemed to be everywhere. A pair of Osprey were tending a nest. A Northern Harrier tilted low over the wetlands and a pair of Ring-necked Ducks splashed into a nearby spot of open water. We thoroughly enjoyed the next couple of hours as there seemed to be birds in every tree. Gini spotted a huge hornet’s nest, probably made last year by Bald-faced Hornets. They build new nests each spring and this one was empty, but impressive.

Heavy equipment was moving in and out of the park at a steady pace but it didn’t seem to bother the birds at all. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast on the bank of the river while being entertained by curious Tufted Titmice, various water birds including a Belted Kingfisher, three species of woodpeckers and warblers and vireos sucking up bugs from the leaves.

To think, we almost went elsewhere. Sometimes under construction should be taken under consideration.

 

Cedar Waxwings were very happily devouring berries and didn’t seem to mind me snapping a few candid photos.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Cedar Waxwing

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Cedar Waxwing

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Cedar Waxwing

 

The Black-and-white Warbler is distinctive not only in plumage but also in behavior. Thinking he must be related to a nuthatch, he scampers DOWN a tree trunk probing for insects along the way.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Black-and-white Warbler

 

This “peek-a-boo” image of a Tufted Titmouse was all I could manage. They were abundant and loud all morning but just would not give me a chance to get an unobstructed picture.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Tufted Titmouse

 

A utility pole made a good perch for a Red-bellied Woodpecker to announce her presence to the world. The back side of the pole had three old cavities which may have been used by this bird in the past.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Red-bellied Woodpecker

 

Although not a very good photograph, this is one of the few times I’ve actually seen the “yellow belly” of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

 

Seeming to have a nice pair of spectacles, a Blue-headed Vireo remained above our heads for quite awhile and was curious as to why we were on the ground and not on a tree branch like a sensible animal should be.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Blue-headed Vireo

 

Gini’s hornet’s nest. Yes, she wanted me to retrieve it. No, I did not climb up a tree 50 feet to get it for her. Not this time.

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

Hornet’s Nest

 

The male American Kestrel is one of my favorite birds. A combination of good looks, athletic ability and pure attitude. Reminds me of someone – where is that mirror?

Fort Meade Outdoor Recreation Area

American Kestrel

 

Ignore the sound of that alarm! Pay no attention to the sound of construction! Get up! Get out! Go birding!

Right now!

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Taken For Granted

As we travel through this journey of life, we sometimes become so accustomed to our routine tasks of the day that we don’t give a thought to some of the essential things around us.  Air.  We use it every second of our existence and can’t live without it, but when do we express thanks for it?  Water.  Not much is as satisfying as a long drink of cool water, but we just assume it’s clean and won’t do us any harm.  Love.  A look, a touch, a word from someone you love and who loves you in return – how marvelous!  How often do we enjoy this precious commodity and how often do we acknowledge it?  (When is the last time you unexpectedly told someone:  “I love you.”? — Now is a good time!)

It’s easy to take things for granted.  Sometimes, we do so out of complete ignorance.  That’s the way it is with woodpeckers.

Growing up in Florida, living in other states, visiting Europe – there were always woodpeckers.

The flash of black and white and a bright scarlet head always commanded attention when a Red-headed Woodpecker dashed between trees.  Locally, they’re in real trouble due to their special habitat requirements and our disregard for providing it.

An older home had a chimney which had been “bird-proofed” with a metal cover.  A Pileated Woodpecker found the cover to be an ideal transmitter during mating season and we awoke during  spring mornings to the amplified drumming echoing throughout the house, the fireplace acting as an effective loudspeaker.

The dainty-looking Downy Woodpecker has a bill that looks like it couldn’t punch a hole in paper, much less excavate a nesting cavity in a tree.  We were privileged one year to observe a pair from the living room window as they raised a family in a maple tree in the yard.

Adaptation is a key to survival and the Red-bellied Woodpecker has learned this lesson quite well.  They are common visitors to back yard feeding stations and are abundant in almost any environment in the area.

A ring of small holes completely around a branch identifies the hunting territory for the handsome Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  It really does consume some of the tree sap during its search for insects.

A Northern Flicker always looks like it just stepped out of a salon with its neat appearance.  Although it’s a woodpecker, it spends most of its time on the ground slurping up ants with a long, sticky tongue.

We were just recently fortunate to find our first Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.  These birds breed cooperatively, the sons of prior generations helping to raise the families of current birds.  Holes are drilled in living pine trees and the sap allowed to run down the trunk.  It’s believed this deters snakes from approaching the nest cavity.  Not that long ago, they inhabited Florida’s old-growth pine forests by the tens of thousands.  Sadly, loss of habitat to lumbering and development has reduced their number so drastically they are now a federal and state endangered species.

So, I was stunned to discover there are parts of the world where no woodpeckers exist.  Folks in Australia, New Zealand and Madagascar don’t get to enjoy these lords of the woods.  This post is dedicated to anyone who has never seen these colorful winged loggers with the chiseled beaks, never climbed a tree to peer into a round cavity for a chance to see if there are eggs or chicks in there or never marveled at a bird clinging vertically to a tree trunk as it scoots up and pries off a piece of bark to reveal its prize.

Please enjoy a few of our Florida woodpeckers.

Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sapsucker Holes

Sapsucker Holes

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Northern Flicker (female)

Northern Flicker (female)

Northern Flicker (female)

Northern Flicker (female)

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Pine Tree With Sap (Red-cockaded Woodpecker nest in progress.)

Pine Tree With Sap (Red-cockaded Woodpecker nest in progress.)

For the rest of us, let’s try not to take for granted these particular treasures Nature has provided.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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