American Bitterns (Botaurus lentiginosus) are not rare birds, but they are not always easy to come by in South Florida. Getting a good look at one in the open is always an event to celebrate.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis) have established themselves so thoroughly at Wakodahatchee that they really belong, by now, in the "usual" category. Nonetheless, they are always special birds for me, partly because they are such handsome creatures and partly because I can remember the days when this species was practically unheard of in South Florida. Instead, you were much more likely to see its cousin the Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor), a bird that I have not seen in Florida for some years (though they are certainly around). Are the newer arrivals driving them out?
Wakodahatchee has become the scene of an even newer bird arrival onto the South Florida landscape. There is nothing unusual about this bird – it is clearly a nesting Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).
However, over the last couple of years the Double-crested Cormorants have been joined by a few Neotropic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax olivaceus), presumably wanderers from the Bahamas. Telling the two apart isn't always easy, especially considering that the two species occasionally hybridize. This bird, I suspect, may be one of the hybrids.
We were lucky enough to come across an even more unusual wanderer from the Bahamas, this time in the parking lot at Green Cay. This is a La Sagra's Flycatcher (Myiarchus sagrae), one of the dullest of its genus. The arrival of a few La Sagra's is by now an annual event in South Florida, but the bird must still be considered a vagrant by any definition. This was only my second encounter.
The song of La Sagra's is a high pitched, wheezy affair, but the bird seems to go to great lengths to produce it.
Not every unusual bird is a wanderer or a rarity. This Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major) at Wakodahatchee doesn't look much like the illustrations in the field guides.
This individual has certainly confused some local birders (there are a number of photographs on the web of what appears to be the same bird). Nonetheless, it is quite clearly a Boat-tail, and a female (not a young male, because it has apparently looked like this over at least three seasons). It is, in fact, leucistic, a genetic variant unable to produce pigment in some of its feathers.
A few more usual birds to finish: an immature Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)...
A Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)...
...and a Green Heron (Butorides virescens), making short work out of what appears to be a Pig Frog (Rana grylio).