Date: April 19, 2015
Weather: sunny until evening, then thunderstorms
Temperature: start 65º
Wildlife count: Ribbon Snake, Gators
Year List: 266
Birds: Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelican, Great & Snowy & Cattle Egrets, Roseate Spoonbill, Broad-winged Hawk, Common Gallinule, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Eastern Wood Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Carolina Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Ovenbird, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-winged Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Black & White Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Boat-tailed & Great-tailed Grackle, Baltimore Oriole
We enjoyed worship and lunch with Jim and Karen.
As soon as we got home, we changed and headed for the rookery at High Island. The colonial nesters, Roseate Spoonbills, Cormorants, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets, were all in their breeding finery. Many grow extra feathers to attract mates. These feathers almost caused their extinction in the late 1800’s, as those feathers were prized for ladies hats and these amazing birds were killed by the thousands. To fight the slaughter and begin restoration efforts was the start of the Audubon Society.
On these birds, there are brightly colored patches of skin, usually around the beak and legs that change color dramatically during breeding season. These changes are caused by hormones, sometimes only lasting a few hours, and for other birds, the hormone-induced colors last for the nesting season.
Most of the colonial nesters are seasonally monogamous. There is a lot of strutting and flapping and guttural grunting on the colony as pair bonds are formed. Once mates are selected, nest building begins and then eggs appear. From several visits, it has been apparent that the Roseate Spoonbills are the last to bond and build nests. We observed chicks in the Great Egret nests already, as well as a few eggs.
There were ninety-three participants for the 4pm walk. Dividing into several groups, we found a dozen warblers and 3 life birds. It was a great afternoon‼
When we returned, I iced John’s German Chocolate cake and the whole neighborhood trooped up to the community building to celebrate. We were going to have cake around the campfire, but the lightning overcame the thoughts of a campfire outdoors. It is been a terrific day to celebrate John’s birthday.