The Mute Swan is apparently an introduced species from Europe to North America. They are one of the heaviest flying birds and can weigh 30-32 pounds! I found this adult with four cygnets swimming behind him or her at Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge. These babies can’t fly for five months so the adults better plan ahead so the family can get out before the water freezes!
The adult Arctic Tern breed and nest mostly in the Arctic but fortunately a few breed and nest on Machias Seal Island. They have beautiful breeding colors with bright red beaks and feet. These Terns mate for life and have the longest migrations of any animal, sometimes with a round trip of 40-50,000 miles. They nest on the ground and are fiercely defensive of their nests and chicks. These two were aggressively defending their chicks and will peck you on the head if they think you are too close to their nest or chicks!
The Arctic Tern is one amazing bird. They are well known for their exhaustive migrations. These trips are from northern breeding grounds to the Antarctic coast for the summer and then back again six months later. They are rarely seen near land except for breeding. They nest every one to 3 years and lay only 1-2 eggs.
The Arctic Tern chicks are downy when they hatch and start to wander around on the ground and explore within 1-2 days of hatching. I photographed these two chicks on Machias Seal Island. These little fluff balls are probably only 1-3 days old!
These majestic birds of prey are awe inspiring. Their huge wingspan of up to 90 inches, ability to lift up to 4 pounds, visual acuity of up to four times that of humans and longevity of 20 years make these creature fascinating. I never tire of watching and photographing these beautiful birds of prey.
The Male Hooded Merganser seems to get all the attention because of his coloring and fan-shaped white crest however the Female Hooded Merganser is very attractive with her tawny crest. I was visiting the Viera Wetlands and this beautiful Female Hooded Merganser took off from the water with no sighting of the male. They are only winter residents in that area of Florida so maybe he was nearby. They are capable of taking off very quickly from water so I feel fortunate to have captured this image.