|Florida Nature: Endangered Birds (4)|
(Mycteria americana) Endangered- Wood storks are tall, white denizens of
freshwater or brackish wetlands and swamps. They can be identified by
their long legs, featherless heads, and prominent bills. These waders
feed on minnows in shallow water by using their bills to perform a rare
and effective fishing technique. The stork opens its bill and sticks it
into the water, then waits for the touch of an unfortunate fish that
wanders too close. When it feels a fish, the stork can snap its bill
shut in as little as 25 milliseconds—an incredibly quick reaction time
matched by few other vertebrates. A large, white, bald-headed wading
bird of the southeastern swamps, the Wood Stork is the only stork
breeding in the United States. Its late winter breeding season is timed
to the Florida dry season when its fish prey become concentrated in
Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) SSC- The most distinctive characteristic of the roseate spoonbill is its long spoon-shaped bill. It has a white head and chest and light pink wings with a darker pink fringe and very long pink legs. The roseate spoonbill is about two and a half feet in length with a wingspan of about four and a half feet. Both males and females have the same plumage and coloring. The male is slightly larger than the female and its bill is a little longer. The roseate spoonbill can be found on the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and southern Florida. It is also found in the tropics and in Central and South America. The roseate spoonbill lives in mangrove swamps, tidal ponds, saltwater lagoons and other areas with brackish water., spending lots of time in the water looking food like small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snails and insects.
Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) SSC- Burrowing owls have white eyebrows yellow eyes and long legs. They lack the eartufts common to most owls. Burrowing owls are sandy colored with with white to cream barring on their chest. These owls are 8 -11 inches in length, weigh around 6-8 ounces and have a wing span of 20-24 inches. Burrowing Owls can build their own homes, but they prefer to live in old prairie dog holes. Often many owls live together in a social group. They are active both day and night and can often be seen standing guard outside their burrows. Burrowing owls fly with irregular wing beats. They hover during hunting and courtship, and may flap their wings asynchronously (not up and down together).
Crested Caracara (Caracara Cheriway) Threatened- The Crested Caracara has a body length of 19 - 23 inches, a 4-foot wingspan, and weighs 1 3/4 - 3 1/2 pounds. The bird’s weight varies greatly depending on where it lives. The Crested Caracaras’ preferred habitat is open, lowland countryside, like pastures, savannas, river edges, and ranches. They may also be found in some forests and marshes. These birds reside in the southwestern United States and Florida, Central America, and South America. The Crested Caracara usually feeds on carrion, but they will take advantage of any food opportunity by eating small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, turtles, fish, crab, eggs, insects, worms, and nestling birds. Caracaras hunt live food on the ground or take food from other birds.
Southeastern American Kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) Threatened- Once widely distributed throughout seven southeastern states, the Southeastern American Kestrel today occurs primarily in Florida but can be found elsewhere in patches distributed in the coastal plains of South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana. Within Florida, the Southeastern American Kestrel was once distributed as far south as Dade County but now breeds no farther south than Highlands and Lee counties. The Southeastern American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in the United States, slightly larger than a Florida Scrub-Jay and slightly smaller than a Mourning Dove. Male American Kestrels have blue-gray wings, while females are slightly larger and have brownish wings. Both sexes have brownish backs and buffy-white, or off-white, undersides with a black flecking, and have distinct black marks extending downward below the eyes.
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) SSC- The Osprey, sometimes known as the sea hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching 24 inches in length with a 6 foot wingspan. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings. A short tail and long, narrow wings with four long, finger-like feathers, and a shorter fifth, give it a very distinctive appearance. The Osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. As its other common name suggests, the Osprey's diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It has evolved specialized physical characteristics and exhibits unique behavior to assist in hunting and catching prey.
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