Here’s another look through your binoculars.
This month we have photos of a pelican feeding frenzy at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, an owl in a bird house and questions about feeding and seeing birds.
If you have a birding question, story or photo that you’d like to share, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You might see yourself featured in a future column. Find me at facebook.com/ndn_katybishop, or, if you’re a tweeting bird fan, at twitter.com/ndn_kbishop
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Lesli Reiff, a veterinarian who lives and works in Naples, sent in the following account of a pelican and gull “feeding frenzy” that she observed this spring at a Naples beach:
I took a trip down to Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park in mid-March of this year for a one-hour “relaxation reminder” of why I love Naples. (I can’t help but develop an inner gloat when overhearing a tourist lament about how they only have a couple of days left before returning to the chilling March winds up north). Luckily, I brought my camera along.
This day, the surf was teeming with fry — I’m not sure what kind — and the pelicans along with the gulls were taking full advantage of the banquet, providing a continuous floor show throughout my visit. The display was one of almost military precision, but the still shots seem to highlight the ballet-like grace of their efforts.
The most amusing thing was that the gulls seemed to be barking orders to the pelicans like drill sergeants. Almost every shot I took of the pelicans had at least one gull in it. The partnership seemed to be limited to no more than one gull per pelican, and, although I couldn’t discern any obvious benefit of this association to the pelicans, the gulls were largely ignored. The symbiotic relationship was evident for the gulls. However, on more than one occasion I saw them retrieving fish directly from the pelican’s bills as they filtered the water from their catch.
YOUR BIRDWATCHING QUESTIONS
Question: No matter what bird food I use, all I manage to attract to my feeder are grackles and mourning doves, not even sparrows or finches. I’ve thought about trying meal worms or other larvae (only the dried, not live. YUK!) But I hate to spend the money if the grackles and doves will eat that, too. Any suggestions?
Answer: This is a common question, says Lori Beall, program administrator for Collier County Audubon Society. The bird feed that you buy in the stores should attract most seed-eating birds, including blue jays, cardinals, painted buntings, etc.
“It’s important to remember that the area you have your feeder should provide shelter to entice birds into your yard and to protect them from the elements or predators,” she continues. “If you have a variety of plants which offer a consistent supply of food and if you have a water feature, bird bath or fountain, for drinking and bathing, that will entice them to come to your yard. It does take time for them to find the feeder, so be patient, they will come.”
If you are interested in getting the meal worms, wrens and bluebirds like them — especially the live ones.
Question: My brother and sister-in-law are avid birders. They have created a backyard birding haven at their home in Milwaukee, Wis., which they enjoy year-round. The last time they came to visit us here in Florida they were disappointed in the number of birds they saw. They would like to visit us again, but want to come when the birds are most plentiful. They will visit us here in Naples and make a side trip to the Everglades. What month would you recommend they plan their visit?
— Mary Jane Ceffalio, Naples
Answer: Now would be a good time for your relatives to visit, if they can, Beall says. Migrating birds including warblers, painted buntings and tanagers stop by on their way to South America between September and November. But if you need more time to plan a visit, don’t worry. They’ll return between late March and the beginning of May on their way back north.
If your relatives want to see shorebirds as well, they’ll catch them anytime between August and April.