The tropical Crested Caracara has a very unique appearance with an unfeathered orange-red face and long legs. This bird of prey is in the Falcon Family but looks very different from most falcons. This adult Crested Caracara has just landed on a bare branch scanning the ground for food. They are opportunistic feeders, and will catch small animals and snakes but will also scavenge on carrion like Vultures. This strikingly beautiful bird is not common in the United States except in a small area in Florida and on the Texas/Mexican Border. In Mexico, the Crested Caracara is sometimes referred to as “Mexican Eagle” and is thought to be the bird that was depicted on the original Mexican flag and national emblem.
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This Female American Kestrel is perching on a bare branch as she scans the ground, hunting. This small falcon is our smallest bird of prey in North America. The Kestrel hunts during the day by pouncing on small rodents and insects. The American Kestrel is a cavity nester but must find an abandoned woodpecker hole or nest box because they are unable to excavate their own cavity. The Male American Kestrel locates a possible nest cavity and then presents it to the Female and she makes the final choice. They are beautiful little falcons and quite common but move very quickly making them a challenge to photograph!
This beautiful Green Jay is known locally in southernmost Texas as the Rio Grande Jay. The Green Jay has such brilliant colors! This one was kind enough to land on this stump surrounded by red pencil cactus. They are very social and are usually in family flocks like other members of the Jay family. This brightly colored bird lives in the tropics with only a very small area of South Texas fortunate enough to encounter this iridescent species.
The Female Northern BobWhite is seen (at least for me) even more seldom that the male. The Northern Bobwhite nests on the ground. The male and female work together for about five days to weave grass and weeds which camouflage their nest. The Female can lay as many as 28 eggs! That’s a lot of Baby Bobwhites to keep warm and feed. I photographed this Female under a Palm tree in Florida. Nesting on the ground seems risky anywhere but especially in Florida with all the predatory animals around. Owls, Snakes, Hawks, Raccoons and Skunks all prey on the adults and their young!
The Northern Bobwhite Quail is a very familiar sound for those of us living in the Eastern United States. Many summer evenings their characteristic whistling call Bob-White is heard frequently but these stocky little quail aren’t seen very often. They are very well camouflaged and tend to hide. They scurry between cover and I felt very lucky to spot this one running along this dirt path (of course he was chasing a female!)