The Audubon Observer, April 2022
Last month we shared the stories of two of our members’ exciting adventures to Maine to see the amazing Steller’s Sea Eagle that appeared there at the end of December. But over the last few months there have been some thrilling rarities right here in Florida, and many of our members have gotten to add these fabulous birds to their life lists.
Here are a few of the unusual bird species recently sighted in our area:
A Lapland Longspur was spotted at Jacksonville’s Huguenot Memorial Park late last year and has been seen at the same location as recently as March 29. It looks like this individual decided to spend the winter in Florida! Lapland Longspurs are in the bunting family and breed in the high Arctic, so this bird will probably be winging its way northward soon if it hasn’t already. Board member Jeff Graham’s great shot of this bird from mid-February is at right.
Huguenot also hosted an Ash-throated Flycatcher this winter, and many more were able to spot this bird, as it has been hanging out near the picnic area parking lot for months! This bird is a true vagrant, as its normal range is the far southwestern US and Mexico. It may still be there as it was seen as recently as March 27, but member Rick Ganzhorn got to see it in Feburary and captured the pic at left.
Several Western Kingbirds were spotted earlier this year in the Five Points area of Jacksonville as well as at the St. Augustine Road Fish Management Area and other spots. According to AllAboutBirds.org, the range of this flycatcher species is the western US and Mexico, although they do state that a few Western Kingbirds migrate to south Florida for the winter. Apparently, some are moving north to spend the winter in northeast Florida, because these birds were spotted multiple times over the last couple of months. Member Jay Kauffman got this great shot of one in late January.
A fairly rare dark (or "blue") morph Snow Goose was spotted at M&M Dairy on the north side of Jacksonville in early February and many local birders successfully added this bird to their life lists. Snow Geese are sporadic visitors to our area during the winter months, but the dark form is much less commonly seen than the all-white form, so it was a treat to see this bird happily grazing with a group of Canada Geese. Jay Kauffman’s photo of this unusual bird is at left.
Northern Cardinals that are yellow instead of the usual red have been spotted in several places across the southeastern US over the last several years and have gotten a lot of attention due to their extreme rarity. Bird experts estimate that there are only about 10-15 of these lovely rarities in North America, so when one showed up recently in Gainesville, it was time for a road trip for many of our members. According to Audubon, the unusual coloration is probably caused by "a genetic mutation that renders the pigments it draws from foods yellow rather than red.” However it got its brilliant yellow coloring, this bird was definitely a sight to see for Jamie Landis, who photographed this spectacular rare bird in mid-March.
These are just a few of the rare bird sightings that motivated local birders to get outside and go birding over the last several months. We can’t wait to see what rare bird will pop up next!
~ Carol Bailey-White, President
JOIN OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS!
It’s that time of year when we consider nominations for our board of directors. We are an all-volunteer chapter governed by a board of directors who work together to plan and coordinate the activities offered by the organization to further our mission, “Connecting people with nature, conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife.”
At the end of our current “season” on June 30, 2022, we will have several board director openings, including Conservation Director for Duval County, Education Director, EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Director, Programs Director, and Volunteer Director. In addition, we are currently without a Vice President, an officer position that will be critical in the coming year as the current president’s final term will end on June 30, 2023.
Our proposed board officers and directors for 2022/2023 are:
Board members attend monthly board meetings (held virtually via Zoom) and participate in chapter activities on a regular basis. Officers are appointed for a one-year term, and directors serve for two years. Board members may continue serving beyond their initial term if willing and approved by the board and the general membership. Board members should become a member of the Audubon organization if not already a member.
If you are interested in joining our board to help our chapter achieve its mission, we encourage you to apply (or download and complete our paper application form and send via US Mail to Duval Audubon Society, PO Box 16304, Jacksonville, FL 32245). If there are multiple candidates for any of the officer positions (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary), an election will be held.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about joining our team. Thank you!
SPOTLIGHT SPECIES: PRAIRIE WARBLER
April marks the peak of spring migration for many songbird species, and the striking Prairie Warbler is always a delight to see as it forages in the tree canopy for spiders, grubs and other insects. While a few Prairie Warblers can be spotted in our area throughout the winter months, the numbers are much greater this time of year so it's easier to find one now. Plus, they are more likely to be singing, as they are trying to attract a mate in preparation for breeding season.
Male Prairie Warblers are easily distinguished by their brilliant yellow coloring, black eye stripe and crescent below the eye, and black streaking on the sides and flanks. During breeding season, males also sport a rusty patch on their upper backs. Immature males (more likely seen in the fall) and females typically have similar but much paler coloring and markings.
Listen for their delicate song in the springtime, a rising series of high-pitched buzzes, and watch for movement in the tree canopy. They seem to especially love our live oak trees, where they can find abundant insects to fuel their migration.
EARTH DAY CLEANUP CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS
Looking for a way to honor our home planet this Earth Day? Join us for a cleanup starting at 8:30 am on Friday, April 22 at the Joe Carlucci Sisters Creek Park and Boat Ramp in Jacksonville (8414 Heritage River Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32226). This area is a fabulous spot for shorebirds and wading birds, but it's desperately in need of a cleanup. This site is an eBird HotSpot where nearly 170 bird species have been reported. Join us to help clean up this lovely spot and help keep trash from harming the wildlife we love.
We'll supply bags, gloves and grabbers, we just need YOU and your help! Please wear close-toed shoes or boots, and clothes that can get dirty. FOR YOUR SAFETY, NO SANDALS OR FLIP-FLOPS PLEASE!
Please register on our Meetup site so we'll know how many to expect. We look forward to seeing you there!
Here's what's happening this month:
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Duval Audubon Society, Inc.