SUMMER WADERS

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Common moorhens and their progeny are everywhere by July.  Groups of 2 parents and anywhere from a couple to 6 or 7 of the little fuzzy babies can be seen in most of the flow-way where there is open water in the vicinity.  Unlike their less trustful cousins, the purple gallinules, moorhens tend to be much more approachable. The babies seem to be in constant need of attention, and follow the parent everywhere, wanting only to be fed.  One of the more interesting aspects of the social life of moorhens is the observation that older birds, from the first broods of the summer, often follow their parents around, and sometimes contribute to feeding of their little siblings from later broods. I don't recall any such brotherly devotion in my family.

The wading birds that are always abundant, conspicuous, and usually quite active, are the herons, egrets, and ibises.  Not only are they easily found at the rookeries, especially towards mid-summer as the young birds begin to leave the nests and move out into the wetlands to forage, they are found throughout Area 3 in considerable diversity.

From left above are great blue heron (twice), little blue heron, and tricolored heron. On the left is a cattle egret, and on the right is a snowy egret.  The cattle egrets are most often seen feeding in the open fields and along the grassy areas of the levees, and the others can be seen feeding in any of the aquatic habitats. Below left is a glossy ibis showing the rich, reddish- browns of the adult.    On the right below is a limpkin.  I seldom see limpkins feeding, but frequently hear them calling and see them perched along my census route.

          

The end of the summer doldrums is rapidly approaching, it seems.  The first of the post-breeding wanderers and early migrants have begun to appear in the last couple of weeks, including belted kingfishers, barn swallows, and a couple of prothonotary and yellow warblers.  Fall migration actually begins just after mid-summer here in central Florida. 

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