One for the birds

Dunedin, and the surrounding areas of Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa, is the home of some of the best birding in the country. The surrounding area features 15 sites along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. I'm in bird heaven.

Great Blue Herons are a dime a dozen here but they never cease to delight me. I have no idea if this GBH was able to swallow the fish. She tried numerous times without success before I moseyed on down the path in Hammock Park. I have full confidence that she enjoyed a fabulous meal.

I almost missed this young night heron. Interesting fact: these young ones leave the nest at the age of one month but cannot fly until they are six weeks old. They move through the vegetation on foot, joining up in foraging flocks at night.

An adult black-crowned night heron strikes a pose. Stockier than other herons, these birds are most active during dusk and dawn, most often perching in trees during the day. I am excited to learn all these Florida birds!

Here is another heron, a yellow-crowned night heron. He has smooth purple-gray colors, sharp black-and-white face, and long yellow plumes lending a touch of elegance.  There are 64 recognized species of herons, each unique and stunning.

This snowy egret, or should I call her a showy egret, put on the ritz for me. This slender little heron is elegant in her pristine, white plumage. She has black legs and bright yellow feet.

Look at this gorgeous anhinga! I learned that anhingas are sometimes called snakebird, darter, American darter, or water turkey. This bird does not have waterproof feathers thus its need to dry them in the sun. They are not as buoyant as other water birds, enabling them stay under the water for longer periods of time.

These precious babies swam and dove relentlessly, always finding themselves back together. I was completely transfixed watching these tiny birds. They are pied-billed grebes. All about Birds describes them as "part bird, part submarine". I agree. They are fascinating to watch and simply adorable.

Beautiful babies! Mating is in full bloom here in Dunedin and these are a few of the results. So precious!

I love this image of the muscovy duck. She is the proud mother of the little ducklings.

These stunning ducks are simply called redheds!

As is often the case, the male is more richly colored than the female. Brilliant plumage is a way for the male to attract the female and for the female to determine if the male is healthy. These two look happy and healthy.

The white ibis is a wading bird and can be found everywhere here, even in front yards foraging for bugs.

And, of course, there are brown pelicans, as you would expect. Diving, fishing, skimming just above the water here on the Dunedin CausewayI learned that the birds use the force of their dive to stun small fish before scooping them up in their over-sized bills. Magnificent birds to watch! Yes, I am certainly in bird paradise and I couldn't be happier.

I am grateful to have found the site All about Birds, an online bird guide that is simple and fun to use. I have many new birds to learn and this site is chocked full of wonderful information. 

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