Monday, February 15, 2010

Cassin's Kingbird

Cassin's Kingbirds
Stormwater Treatment Area 5 - Hendry County
February 15, 2010

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) owns the Stormwater Treatment Area 5 (STA5), which is one of several huge properties used to filter surface water entering the Everglades. Hendry-Glades Audubon conducts monthly birding tours here on a reservation basis as SFWMD restricts access for safety and other concerns. And in February, during the Great Backyard Count weekend, STA5 is opened for three days, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Last year I attended the Presidents' Day birding tour and had a good time. So I was anxious for a repeat visit. My daughter, Katie and I arrived shortly before the 8:30 start time which kicked-off with great views of Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Black-necked Stilts and a Purple Gallinule. From this start we traveled by caravan atop the levees surrounding the various cells. In the course of the four hours we had hits on Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, American Wigeon, a Eurasian Wigeon (a very good hit) and several other waterfowl, including thousands of American Coots. Most of the wading birds were represented including Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Limpkins and an American Bittern. Hundreds of American White Pelicans were present. We saw four Crested Caracara before reaching the property and had observed several Snail Kites on the tour. Most of the non-local birders enjoyed the snail kites as well as great close-up looks at active Black Skimmers. We had hundreds of Tree Swallows and found a lone Swamp Sparrow. For me the best sighting was a lifer with sighting of a wintering resident Cassin's Kingbird ( rare to Florida ) in the company of a Western Kingbird.

Cassin's Kingbird
Photo courtesy of

American White Pelicans at STA5

American Coots are everywhere at STA5

 Bronzed Cowbird at Clewiston

Western Kingbird along CR835 -
Had a total of eight along this streach of road

We also found several Purple Swamphens which are exotics that had begun to gain a threshold in the Everglades after several escaped captivity during Hurricane Andrew. Wildlife management had tried to eradicate the exploding population over several years and has finally given up as a lost cause and the swamphens will probably be expected as ABA countable soon. Another escaped exotic, the sacred ibis, had also recently began to breed in the wild, but looks like wildlife management had been more successful with eradication of this species.

Following the tour we drove the twenty miles up to Clewiston in search of Bronzed Cowbirds and common mynas. found the a couple of the cowbirds at the Lake Okeechobee dike, but dipped on the mynas. On the way home watched the fences and wires along CR835 for any swallow-tailed flycatchers or Western Kingbirds. No flycatchers, but found eight of the kingbirds spreadout on the wires along the road
Black-necked Stilts at STA5
Roseate Spoonbills at STA5

My List - Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Snail Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Sora, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Limpkin, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Caspian Tern, Black Skimmer, Belted Kingfisher, Cassin's Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Tree Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Palm Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, Ring-billed Gull, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird

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