Sunday, March 18, 2012

Latest 2012 Arrivals

For those of you keeping score at home, we have a few more arrivals to report at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest.

A flock of White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) were observed wading in the water behind the beaver dam north of the boardwalk at #3.  They are mainly feeding on crayfish and the water behind the beaver dam appears to be a rich hunting area.

White Ibis - Mark Musselman
We previously reported one Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea) near the boardwalk, but additional individuals have arrived in the swamp.  Yellow-crowned Night Herons are searching exclusively for crayfish.  Watch carefully.  When one of these birds has a crayfish in the crosshairs the bird's tail end begins to wiggle back and forth.  A quick jab with its sturdy bill usually results in a crayfish meal.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman
The native azaleas (Rhododendron canescens) are now blooming in the swamp.  There is a fine specimen directly behind the nature center.
Swamp Azalea - Mark Musselman
Finally, we thought we heard a short song from a Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra).  If that bird has indeed arrived, it would be several weeks early.  We'll keep our ears open!

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