TANAGERS, CARDINALS, FINCHES AND SPARROWS

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Tanagers - two species of tanagers occur regularly in Florida, but I've never seen Scarlet Tanagers at Lake Woodruff.

        Summer Tanagers are not often found far inside the main public use areas of the refuge, but in many summers I've found them in the area around the entrance, around the railroad tracks.  They are breeding birds in our area, and a territorial male or two can sometimes be found at the refuge border and the disturbed habitats you cross just before tracks.

Finches - other species that may breed or migrate through central Florida, such as House Finches and Blue Grosbeaks, are not commonly seen on the easily accessible areas of the refuge.  

Northern Cardinals are common year-round residents and frequent breeding birds in all wooded habitats, around edges of hammocks, and in brushy disturbed habitats.  The more brightly colored male is on the left, the female on the right.
                                   American Goldfinches are occasionally seen in small flocks in winter, flying over open habitats or in brushy or disturbed habitats feeding on weed and grass seeds.  I usually detect them first by their high, tinkling call notes, frequently given while in flight. They are in their relatively dull winter plumage while here; some males begin to molt into their bright yellow breeding plumage in spring before migrating north to their breeding range.

Buntings

                     I  don't see Indigo Buntings often at the refuge, but they migrate through the area in large numbers in September- October, so they are around at those times.  Look for them along brushy edges.  You are more likely to see a winter-plumaged bird (right) than you are to see a breeding-plumaged male (left).
Painted Buntings are infrequent at Woodruff, but like Indigos, are regular migrants and sometimes winter residents in the area, so they are occasionally on the refuge. I see the greenish females and first-year males (center and right) more often than the spectacular males (left).  They are always inconspicuous, and often deep in weedy thickets, where they feed on grass and weed seeds.

Towhees

Eastern Towhees are inconspicuous in behavior, but handsomely colored permanent residents.  They aren't abundant on public use areas of the refuge, but can sometimes be found at forest edges and in brushy disturbed habitats, such as areas along the railroad track near the entrance and on Jones Island. The male (left) has a black head, back and wings, while in the female (right) these areas are chocolate brown.

Sparrows - only the most frequently seen species are listed below.  Others, such as White-crowned, White-throated, and Lincoln's Sparrows are possible.  In my experience, the vast majority of sparrows seen in the public use areas of the refuge are one of these four species. All are winter residents.

   Probably the most easily found sparrow, Savannah Sparrows are common in fall and winter in the grassy areas of all of the dikes.  They usually run first, then flush and fly a short distance ahead of you and dive back into thick grass.  Getting a good look at them is not always easy.
     Swamp Sparrows are also common in the brushy and thickly vegetated margins of the dikes and impoundments, but are relatively shy.  They are more frequently seen in flight between one point of concealment and another.  They have a distinctive, tail-pumping pattern of flight when traveling short distances.  Getting them out in the open like this for very long is not easy.
      Chipping Sparrows are more typical of edges and semi-wooded habitats, and are occasionally seen in small flocks along the main road into the refuge or the sandy road paralleling the railroad track just before the refuge entrance.
   Song Sparrows are regular but less abundant  winter residents.  Single birds can sometimes be found in brushy thickets, at woodland edges, and in thick patches of vegetation along the dikes.

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