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My Life’s Birds: #47-49

December 19, 2007
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JUNE 7, 1993 – Tampa, FL – Birding is easy in Florida. It the reason the area is so popular with birders from all over the world. While the birds there are nothing special from a global population perspective, what is there is easily accessible, flashy , and simple to identify. So it was with our days in the Tampa Bay area, we were not there to bird, not that I knew what it was to go somewhere just to bird yet. We were there to enjoy the beach and the amusement parks and the things more “normal” families do when they’re in the area.

It didn’t stop me from adding to my life list though. White Ibis, know locally as Florida chickens, were easy enough to find in every single body of water slightly larger than a puddle. Social and tame they’re just about everywhere these days, as they were then. It doesn’t take anything away from their stately charm that they spend most of their time squabbling over french fries in a fast food parking lot… well, not much anyway.

Boat-tailed GrackleRaucous parking lot birds were the order of the day though. As odd as it sounds to me now, I have Ring-billed Gulls, normally winter residents, on my day list for this day. Perhaps it was a first-year bird who decided not to return with the rest of the clan to parts north. Not that I can especially blame him, bountiful food and enviable weather would draw me to the Sunshine State instead of some bleak Manitoba lake front (no slight intended to the fine people of Winnipeg). But the prize for urban success (Florida division) has to go to the ever-present Boat-tailed Grackles, shouting its squealing, chattering tirades to whomever can bear to listen. Males puffed up, looking as ungainly in the air as the Spruce Goose, but there atop light poles and tram stations. The disjunct mish-mashed chords strangely appropriate in a theme park/zoo that’s run by a brewery.

photos from wikipedia

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