#miami

Continuing with the year of travel, Jaime and I were fortunate enough to make it down to Miami for my sister’s graduation and to see the family, celebrate Christmas early, and all of those good things. Additionally, I am sure you would be disappointed if I didn’t spend considerable time chasing birds around and looking foolish in front of all of those gaudily-dressed scenesters, European ravers, and Jersey Shore cast members. Don’t worry, reader(s) behold:

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove

The first significant bird was a life bird for me, the Eurasian Collared Dove. Much like most things in Miami, these birds do not originate in America. They supposedly can be found in Indiana too, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

The Cattle Egret was also a life bird for me, though they are exceedingly common in Florida. They are infamous for expanding their range very rapidly during the 20th century, arriving in the US of their own accord and spreading out from there. Again, these can supposedly be found in Indiana, but I haven’t seen any proof yet.

Mitred Parakeet

Mitred Parakeet

Another life bird were these Mitred Parakeets that had taken their talents to South Beach. Originally from Ecuador or something, these birds are feral and thriving in their new digs. They are also closely related to the Red-Masked Parakeets of San Francisco (and this blog’s) fame, but the Mitred variety has an incompletely red face.

Muscovy Duck

Muscovy Duck

The provenance of waterfowl is frequently difficult to determine when they are unafraid of humans, and I was about ready to give up on the Muscovy Ducks that inhabit the University of Miami’s campus because they are endemic to Central America. However, one of these ugly bastards had a flock of ducklings with it, which let me know that they have indeed established themselves like the parrots above. Lifer.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird

The fifth and final lifer of the trip was this Magnificent Frigatebird that was wheeling around the bay outside of our 15th floor balcony. These guys have a truly crazy silhouette that looks like they should be in a Batman movie.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

The award for most appropriately named bird of the trip goes to this Palm Warbler, which was sitting in a palm tree.

White Ibis

White Ibis

I do not know the scientific term for a group of White Ibis, so I will say that this herd of them was busy begging for bread crumbs at The U.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

This Brown Pelican was photographed from our Duck Boat during the Duck Boat Tour of Biscayne Bay. It was not amused.

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

It was impossible to do anything without at least one Laughing Gull looking at you funny.

Unlikely Allies

Unlikely Allies

Even with all of the great birds that were seen in South Florida, perhaps the most unexpected was the Red-Bellied Woodpecker cavorting about with Monk Parakeets in a palm tree in the middle of a busy street. I guess this just goes to show you that what happens in Miami stays in Miami, unless you get photographed and put on the internet.

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Birding Flashback: Dallas, TX 2007

Right after I graduated from Ohio State (actually, one week before I graduated), I started working for a company called American Woodmark that is based in Virginia. Their rookie training program had me jumping around all over most of the Southeast, with a stay in Dallas in August of 2007. I quickly found the city’s best hot spot for birds and spent a few afternoons there. Looking back, I wonder how much better the birding would have been with nicer weather (we had two straight weeks of 95+ degree heat with humidity, immediately followed by Hurricane Erin). But nonetheless, I had many lifers at White Rock Lake on the east side of downtown. Observe:

Great-Tailed Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackle

Upon disembarking from my flight and stepping foot on Texan soil outside of DFW, I saw several of these birds, went “Whoa!” and immediately dug my camera out of my suitcase to take pictures right there in the airport parking lot. I had never seen them before, so naturally I was excited. I probably could have waited a little while to paparazzi them, though, because it turns out that in Texas, Great-Tailed Grackles are about as common as Pigeons. Oh well.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbird

Another lifer for me was the Western Kingbird that I saw once I got to White Rock Lake. This gentleman remains the only individual of the species I have ever seen.

Monk Parakeet

Monk Parakeet

As I made my way to the northern side of the lake, I heard the biggest racket created by hundreds and hundreds of these Monk Parakeets. After going back to the hotel to look up this bird (obviously not in my field guide), I was able to identify them and also learn that the population in Dallas goes beyond escaped and feral pets. The colony is well-established, with most of the birds likely being born in the wild. They have also become a nuisance animal, building huge stick nests on utility poles that occasionally catch on fire.

American Coot

American Coot

The common American Coot presented a good photo opportunity.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

As did the much less common (for a northerner) Snowy Egret. I am, however, at a loss as to what species of turtle that is.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

The lake also harbored one of the densest swallow populations I have ever seen.

Purple Martin

Purple Martin

So I tried to get artistic with my photography. I still wish I had tried to get an actual photo of the Purple Martins.