The local Scrub Jay sanctuary is one of our favorite places to visit. We try to incorporate an early morning hike as often as possible...
As you travel the trails of Helen and Alan Cruikshank Sanctuary, the songs of various birds travel with you every step of the way. Mockingbirds, Scrub Jays, and Eastern Towhees are tops on the playlist.
This is a popular community tree where numerous species congregate. The Mocker decided it was a little much when the Grackle joined its morning meeting with the Red-bellied WP and Scrub Jay.
I came across a branch loaded with these downward facing blossoms.
This was one of the raptors we saw...and I'm pretty certain it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk; it seemed too small to be a Cooper's Hawk. Hopefully it will stay away from my favorite youngsters! We also saw a Great Horned Owl and an Osprey.
This time the Jay offered its mostly hollowed out acorn to the other young Jay.
I've read a lot about Florida Scrub Jays and their unique, cooperative breeding habits.
Since the young/juvenile Jays are fed and protected by not only their parents but other young, non-breeding Jays, they are considered to be "cooperative breeders". I've seen these two young Jays regularly each visit and I'm pretty certain they are very close in age, so I thought it was interesting that they were feeding one another.
We also visited River Lakes Conservation Area this week. Its a slow time for birds in the area....we did see (and hear) lots of Meadowlarks, including this scrawny juvenile that was foraging on the trail. We also saw adult adult Killdeer with a tiny chick, several Sandhill Cranes, a few waders along the canal, and 2 Swallow-tailed Kites circling the area.
My son now likes to search for bugs, with caterpillars being his favorite. He spotted this tiny ladybug making its way up and down a branch.
I was looking at the different species of dragonflies that were occupying the upper limbs.
These Nuttall's Thistles are blooming all along the trail!