|Florida Birds: Song Birds|
Bachman's Sparrow- The Bachman’s sparrow prefers open longleaf forests with a groundcover of grasses or forbs, but with little or no understory of trees or shrubs. Spring and summer is the best time to listen for the elusive five-inch Bachman’s sparrow. Their song begins with a loud, clear whistle followed by an extended trill. Its color is often gray-brown and it has a long, dark bill and long, rounded tail. In the spring, pregnant females scrape out a shallow depression on the ground and then construct a domed grass nest in a dense shrub or palmetto clump. Three to five glossy white eggs are laid, the young usually hatching in late spring or early summer. After 10 days, the young leave the nest.
Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow- The Cape Sable seaside sparrow is the only bird restricted entirely to the Everglades ecosystem. The non-migratory Cape Sable seaside sparrow occurs almost exclusively in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve in Dade and Monroe counties. The 5-inch-long sparrow is dark olive-gray and brown on the back and light gray with dark olive streaks on the sides. It has small patches of yellow feathers in front of the eyes and at the bend of the wings. Because of their small size, drab appearance, and secretive habits, seaside sparrows usually are heard before they are seen. The male’s song consists of a few introductory notes followed by a “buzzy” trill.
Cerulean Warbler- Cerulean warblers are strikingly beautiful – adult males are a vibrant blue color on their backs and heads, and white below, with a dark breast band and dark streaks. Adult females are blue-green above, pale yellowish below. As they fly between their wintering areas in South America and nesting sites in the United States and Canada, they alight only briefly in Florida, part of the migratory songbird contingent that sweeps in waves over our state every spring and fall.
Eastern Bluebird- Bluebirds are small, beautifully colored thrushes. They’re often seen perched in a hunched position on wires or fences in fields and open woodlands throughout central and north Florida. The adult male bluebird has a vibrant blue back, head and tail, chestnut colored throat and breast, and white belly. Females are duller and grayer and young birds are heavily spotted. During the summer, bluebirds feed mainly on insects and earthworms. During the non-breeding season, they form small flocks. When the weather is very cold, a group of bluebirds will occasionally roost together in a nest cavity for warmth.
Florida Grasshopper Sparrow- Florida grasshopper sparrows are small, short-tailed birds, about 5 inches long and weighing less than one ounce. This not so drab sparrow is mostly black and gray with some brown streaks on the back. Underneath, it is light gray or buff color with no streaking. Feathers at the bend of the wing are bright yellow and there is an orange patch in front of the eyes. A white stripe marks the top of the head. The male’s primary song is weak and grasshopper-like, giving rise to the bird’s common name.
Florida Scrub-Jay- The Florida scrub-jay is a 12-inch-long, blue and gray crestless jay that lacks the white wing spots and tail feather tips of the more common and widespread blue jay. A necklace of blue feathers separates the whiter throat from the gray whitish forehead. The tail is long and loose in appearance, and the back is gray. Scrub-jays that are less than about 5 months old can be identified by their dusky brown head and neck, but there are no such physical traits that distinguish males from females.
Painted Bunting- The painted bunting is one of the most rapidly declining songbirds in the eastern United States. Florida breeding and winter season surveys show an astounding 4-6 percent annual decrease in this species' numbers. In some areas, counts have fallen from the hundreds to a mere handful. Painted buntings are medium-sized and gloriously colored: males are blue, red, yellow and green, females a greenish yellow. The buntings seek brushy vegetation in open areas such as roadside thickets and edges of fields. They frequent backyard gardens, searching for seeds. They nest in the shrub edges in coastal hammocks.
Wood Thrush- The song of the wood thrush is so beautiful it inspired Handel to write a piece of music in the bird's honor. There is no more lovely a sound than the loud, flute-like song, ending in a trill, of this songbird. The wood thrush is large and plump, reddish-brown above and whitish below, with large dark spots on its throat, breast and sides. It has a bold, white eye ring and its tail is short. It is often tied to shade-grown coffee plantations in South America for winter survival, since it requires shady areas. Spring brings it returning to North America to breed in moist deciduous forests.
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