Birds in the Burbs...  

Florida Living is often great for watching wild creatures go about the business of living. One can stand in the kitchen peering out with binoculars to see every species appearing below. All the creatures on this page survive very well without our interference. Click an image for a  larger view.


 

First on our list is the Anhinga. Sometimes called a 'snake bird', it dines on small fish it captures beneath the surface. We often see them perched on a piece of driftwood while drying their wings. Most often we see them perched atop phone poles or perhaps with their heads poking out of the water.

There are a number of Blue Jays living in the area. Jays have a noisy call and are sometimes considered to be the 'bullies' of the bird world. The female differs slightly in coloration. 

Cattle Egrets are everywhere in Florida. We see them trailing behind mowers but most often scurrying about the meadow munching on insects stirred as cattle kick up the turf. 

Coots are an annual migrant. Their call resembles their name. Their numbers increase slowly  as the temperature up north decreases. We seldom see them on land. A plump body like this is very awkward out of the water. In some areas they are considered a nuisance due to sheer numbers. 

Mourning doves are  also a prominent avian presence at Fontana Point. They coo softly to one another and startle easily. On cold mornings they love the pool area where they rest on the warm pavement in a patch of sunlight. These are the birds that sit in the tree over your vehicle! 

The Snowy Egret is another full time resident. You can tell from the pointy beak that it's a fisher. Sometimes they are mistaken for herons but they are actually much smaller. 

 On the left is a Flicker. They're one variety of woodpecker. You may often see holes in palm trees and hear their call. Sturdy feet and stiff tail feathers make it possible for them to cling to the sides of a tree and peck holes to reveal insects and grubs... yum! 

One of the most lovely species to frequent our lake are the herons. There are several species. They do not  have attractive voices and all are very shy. Most common are the tri-colored or Louisiana Heron. Most attractive is perhaps the Great White Heron (not pictured). Also the night herons are here. You hear them squawk in the night and  splash in the wake. There are actually two species at Fontana Point. Mostly white breasted and the Tiger throated.

Another unique resident on our shores is the Ibis. Generally white (only the young appear grayish), Ibis prowl the turf with long specialized beaks probing for insects. They are also somewhat shy and will allow no one to approach too closely. 

One of the most impressive species to be seen around our community is the Osprey. A large fishing predator similar to a hawk or an eagle. In truth they will also dine on chicks, small turtles lizards and pretty much anything that can't get away! We also see them sitting on enormous nests at pole and tree tops.  

A number of web footed friends love our lake year round. Perhaps most notable is the Muscovy duck (pictured left). A very  insistent species of scavenger and not a desirable resident. Females will sit three times a year with a clutch of 12 eggs making a huge gaggle in a very brief time. You can tell when someone has been feeding them because they become 'imprinted'. Each time they see our upright form they rush to be fed. 

There are several migratory species. Mallards are colorful and very much smaller than Muscovies. Also, Ring-Necked Ducks are seen to float as little rafts throughout the winter. Like the Coot, Ring-Necked Ducks seldom leave the security of the water.

In the Spring each year we are treated to the Oriole. The bright contrast of black and orange is very distinctive. Their call is a kind of 'whooping'. Though the Mockingbird is actually the official bird of Texas its' presence in Florida and at Fontana Point is truly dominant. They can sometimes be a bit aggressive as they 'dive bomb' you when their nest feels threatened. They have a great variety of remarkably complicated calls. One can say that they are emblematic of southern nights. 

Perhaps the final flying species on our wildlife page is the turkey vulture. Circling overhead in the stiff fall winds, they search for the unfortunate casualties of other species. Being very large birds, it's fascinating to watch them swoop and dip, landing to feed only when the coast is clear.

Lets not forget two rather hidden residents of our lake. The first happens to be a sometimes large terrapin, the Florida soft-shell turtle. We see them poke long snouts above the surface and disappear at the slightest movement. 

We also host the grand daddy of Florida lizards, the iguana. Sometimes reaching 4 feet in length and weighing in at several pounds. The iguana is quiet and shy. Capable as any lizard of remaining motionless for long periods of time, perhaps this is why many have chosen to keep them as pets. Finally on the bottom right is an amazing sadly un-credited image of of the very rare Louisiana or Tri-colored Heron.

        

* On the top right of this page is pictured the Monk Parakeet. We see them flocking together in noisy groups. They love our warm climate and are well established even into South America. Those who have tried to keep them as pets discover they're too vocal (they are left in cages on the outside porch).