#NotesFromTheRiver - Here Comes the Stork!



NOOO! Not the Baby-Carrying Kind of Stork! 

The Nesting Material Carrying Kind, Like THIS:

Wood Stork
(Mycteria Americana)


Last week, I hinted I'd be talking about something quite beautiful in the air, but possibly a bit less so on the ground, and here it is--the wood stork. For some reason, I really love this big guy, and I hope by the time you learn more about wood storks, you'll learn to love them, too, if you don't already.

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#NotesFromTheRiver - Introduction to Central Florida Yard Birds - The Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
(Cardinalis cardinalis)


Today, I'm beginning a series of posts about the birds that call our backyards home. You know the ones I mean. You see these guys at your birdfeeders or singing from the branches of your shade trees. Maybe you have a vague idea of what they are, but don't know much about them. Or maybe you've been trying to ID them, and haven't had any luck so far. I'm hoping this series (which will be interspersed here and there between other posts in the months ahead) will help you recognize what you are seeing and learn a bit more about each species. We'll be taking them a one or two at a time, starting with some of the most common of all. Even non-birders will likely have noticed these guys and maybe even identified a few of them, already.

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#NotesFromTheRiver - Rattlesnakes on Parade: Watch Your Step!

A Seriously Annoyed Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
(Crotalus adamanteus)

A change of pace from birds today, with a post about one of the last two dangerous snakes found in central Florida. The last two species, that is, not the actual last TWO. I've done previous posts on the eastern coral snake and the water moccasin, and today, I want to talk about the Big Guy--the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Next week, I'll deal with the Little Guy, the dusky pygmy rattlesnake. In the panhandle area, you can find timber rattlesnakes (a/k/a canebrake rattlesnakes) and copperheads, but we don't have them here. However, of the two we have left to talk about, one holds the distinction of being the largest rattlesnake the United States, and the other is the one with the most bites attributed to it. Since they are both snakes you want to avoid cornering or stepping on, I'd like to show you how to recognize them. You'll want to give them a plenty of space if you spot them in the wild, and call for a professional to remove them if you spot them in your yard or (gasp) house. So without further ado, let's get started on the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

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Another LBJ For Ya!

Aggressive Much?
(Yes, Where Protecting the Nest is Concerned)

This week's post, though shorter than usual, continues our exploration of central Florida's most common LBJs. (In case you haven't yet read last week's post, LBJ is a highly technical birding term for hard-to-identify species. The literal translation is "Little Brown Jobs," and is widely used among frustrated birders everywhere.) My time today is somewhat limited, as I'm getting ready for company next week, and have the usual 6,000 things to do before they arrive, but I'll do my best to give you some pointers on another common LBJ, so you'll soon be able to call them by their correct names. Maybe. (They ARE difficult, remember.)

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#NotesFromTheRiver - The Fairest of Them All

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)


The life of a writer is busier than most would imagine, especially when a book is being edited and wrapped up for publication. I love every minute of what I do, but sometimes it does get in the way of other fun things I enjoy, like sharing facts and pictures of what is surely the most beautiful of all our native ducks, the wood duck. (This is my humble apology for taking so long to get back to you, and I hope you'll forgive me for my absence, when you see what I've got for you today.) 

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#NotesFromTheRiver - Ducks That Whistle?

Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)


Everybody knows ducks quack. Right? Well . . . yeah, sure. But not ALL ducks. Some ducks whistle, believe it or not, and since one of them, the black-bellied whistling duck, is a favorite of mine, that's the one we'll be talking about--and listening to--today.

Black-bellied whistling ducks were called Black-bellied TREE ducks back in the Dark Ages when I first started birding. The name made sense to me, because you so often saw this large, long-legged duck perched in trees, especially along tall, dead limbs that afforded the duck a great view in all directions. I'm not sure if that's why they liked those so much, but that's where they were often spotted. But some time ago, their "official" common name (which is an oxymoron, by the way, since common names are not official, and are often different from place to place) got changed to Black-bellied whistling duck. Unlike many of the other seemingly arbitrary name changes in ornithology, this one actually makes sense. As mentioned above, this bird whistles instead of quacking. If you can't imagine such a thing, go HERE to check it our for yourself. (But come right back. We have lots more to learn about this guy).

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