Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bird Calls and Sounds on Sanibel: One great way to find our feathered beauties

Sanibel Island is so full of beautiful sights and enticing smells, it is easy to neglect the sounds of the Island.

The shells collecting on our beaches, often in the thousands, are like jewels from the sea.  On the right day, at the right time, they are a treasure waiting to be admired.

Similarly, our collection of birds is nothing short of amazing.

The larger wading birds, such as Reddish Egret, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron and Roseate Spoonbill literally gather by the hundreds on sandy spits in Ding Darling in low tide. 

Of course, other smaller birds can be found in these stunning assortment of birds.  Cormorants,  Spotted Sandpipers , dozens of Willets and many species are tucked in here and there into the large gatherings.

Now , in winter, large numbers of White Pelican are side by side with our year round residents, Brown Pelicans.

All of the above birds are easily sighted.  They are out in numbers, highly visible and rarely does a bird watcher have to rely on outside sources, such as binoculars, to spot them.

But winter time also brings a unique opportunity to those on island who delight in hope , that thing with feathers.  Sanibel Island is a popular migratory stop for dozens of species not seen here year round.  Most of these are the smaller birds, not easy to see no matter where.

That said, we have found our ears as are as helpful as our eyes in seeing these special  things.

The Warblers can often be heard in the canopy of trees with the sweet sound of the Yellow Warbler heard above the rest. 

This nearly solid yellow warbler can sometimes be confused with the goldfinch, but has a softer coloration that includes streaks of light brown. Like most warblers, the yellow warbler has a beautiful song that almost always begins with a rapid "sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet" followed by a dozen variations on that call. This is truly one of the most stunning of all the warblers.

We have many Warblers passing through in winter, but one we can count on to come and stay is the Palm WarblerThe rusty-capped Palm Warbler can be most easily recognized by the tail-wagging habit that shows off its yellow undertail. It breeds in bogs and winters primarily in the southern United States and Caribbean. Its song is a weak trill and its call a thing "tsip" or sharp chirp.

But there are few birds more charming or more verbal than Blue Gray Gnat Catchers.  These tiny birds move so quickly among the deep canopy, you will almost definitely hear them before you see them.

Males have two song types. The simpler is a variable series of 4 to 8 short, soft phrases. This is sung early in the nesting season and, once nesting has begun, shortly after sunrise and in territorial disputes. It may occasionally be sung on wintering grounds. More complex songs are sung from early morning to midday. These continuous jumbles of sharp chips, high-pitched whistles, and mewing notes are 10 seconds or more long and often include mimicked bits from the repertoires of jays, tanagers, towhees, vireos, warblers, sandpipers, and other species. Songs may be sung from elevated perches, while feeding, or while in motion.

So, when wandering the island, it is always good to keep both your ears and eyes wide open.  It's worth the effort~~


No comments: