Purity and Perfection
This tree stands proudly with blossoms that stand for Purity and Perfection, providing shelter to many feathered beauties. Follow me to take an exciting Journey!
This southern white flowering tree is native to our region. The Magnolia tree sprouts it’s stunning and fragrant flowers, here in Florida in early spring. The glossy leaves against the soft white blossoms, stands out in all its glory. Just one flower brought inside, will create an awesome aroma that will fill the entire house. The flower is so large it will fill a full size dinner plate. It is an exceptional conversation piece to any dinner party.
The Native American’s boiled the Magnolia leaves to make a tea. It was a powerful medicine to treat various symptoms and conditions. Historically it has been used as a substitute for Quinine, in a treatment for Malaria.
The Magnificent Magnolia attracts many birds. The seeds of a Magnolia are surrounded by a brightly colored fleshly aril that is high in fat. This provides migratory birds a source of energy. This large tree provides shelter for birds and wildlife. And this brings me to my next magnificent wonder.
As I awoke this July morning, the sound of a sweet melody rang to me from outside my window. A distinct sound richly blended of notes that alternately seem to rise and fall so perfectly. He was as beautiful in sight, as he was in sound.
He was a bright egg yolk colored bird with streaks of burgundy running through his breast and belly. I quickly grabbed my camera but he bounced back and forth so quickly it was almost impossible to capture the moment. So, have you guessed this bird yet?
Why yes that is correct, it is the Yellow Warbler, and what a beautiful way to start this summer day. Fast forward to January and I hear this familiar tune. What appears before me is a female Warbler. She has the warm yellow tones, but lacks the chestnut streaking. As in most birds the females are not as brightly colored as the males.
Remember this one, what is he going to buy you?
The next magnificent variety is our State bird and for us that is the Mockingbird. We share this State bird with Mississippi, Tennessee Texas and Arkansas. They are known to “Stand their ground” in defense of the family nest. How ironic that we are created with this same instinct, as well. The Mockingbird is a top notch songbird and mimic. They have been known to sing up to two-hundred songs, mimic other bird calls as well as songs, and mimic insects and Amphibian sounds. I even read an article once about them having the ability to mimic other animals such as dogs barking, mechanical machinery and sirens. They have been known to mate for life. It had been reported that many pairs in the State of Florida, for staying together through their average life span of 8 years.
Have you ever paid close attention to the characteristics of the Blue Jay?
What an exceptional bird. To some they are noisy, but to me they are a very social tight nit flock. We have one blue jay we call hop. When he arrives, he bounces up and down, to show us his excitement for what is to come. This particular morning, we throw out some peanuts and here comes Hop. He first calls to the rest of his family, then snatches a peanut, but not before he picks up many to weight them with his beak, then he perches himself on a branch to wait for the family’s arrival. Sure enough, here comes the gang. How do you explain this bird? They are very intelligent, determined, energetic, courageous, clever and entertaining. All good qualities, wouldn't you agree?
Fact: The oldest known wild Blue Jay lived to be 17 ½ years old. Now that is pretty amazing.
Pretty in Pink
The next magnificent variety will be found in the Everglades. Let us go together in search of a larger bird called the Rosette spoonbill.
What an awe inspiring bird. They are a very graceful bird with rose colored feathers. The wings are bright red to magenta, with a wing spread of 3 to 4 feet.
In feeding, they open their beak, swinging their head from side to side in the water. This creates a whirlpool that pushes the mud below the surface. Maximum foraging is at knee high, however they will feed in water above their chest with their head and neck submerged.
Q So would you say they locate their food source by sight?
A No would be the right answer. Any small fish will bump the edge of their sensitive mandibles and snatched up with a snap of her bill.
Their color remains uniform in both the male and the female; however the males are larger in size. They are very social birds and their nesting can be found alongside their own kind, or other water birds.
The next magnificent variety we find at Fort Desoto, and it can be found amongst many of our local beaches and parks as well. This one is called the Least Sandpiper. They are the smallest and are also known as peeps. They are not much bigger than a sparrow. They have yellow green legs and a high pitched call. You will find them dancing along the shorelines probing for food. The declining birds migrate thousands of miles. Florida is home to many more birds not mentioned above. Stay with me for Part II of this glorious journey.
Our next adventure
My father was a birdwatcher. I will never forget the day of his funeral, our family had gathered at my sister’s home. We sat on the large front porch and out of the blue fly a beautiful hummingbird. Suddenly she stops right in the middle of the porch for what seemed to be a split second, fluttering her wings. Then as quickly as she came, she was gone. Our sisters were in awe as we ponder what just happened. One of my sisters suddenly commented, “She said, “Now, that was dad!” This memory will always remain with me, and bring fond memories of our wonderful father. While I have never seen a Hummingbird in Florida, the best is yet to come.
Birdwatching, shhh… listen to their joyous melody, see the splash of plumage coloration, let your fascination build, and it is truly an exciting adventure.
Travel with me to my next post…Stay tuned!
How Nature works.
- How Nature Works: Barrier Island Foraging Strategies - YouTube
Louisiana's barrier islands provide critical and unique habitat for a range of migrant and wintering bird species. Shorebirds in particular utilize a variety...