Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wintering Grasshopper Sparrow and more ...

[Southwest Florida, Feb. 2013]

Grasshopper Sparrows are found wintering in Mexico as well as in much of the Southern US; including Florida. Their name reflects not only the similarity of this sparrow's song to the grasshopper but also their affinity for making the very same insect an integral part of their diet.
Grasshopper Sparrow seen at Harns Marsh.

A secretive sparrow, they are rarely seen except in the breeding season. Oddly, they are not "flockers" unlike other members of their family.
Like other grassland birds, their numbers are threatened by loss of habitat although their extensive range works for them.

An Eastern Meadowlark atop a post.
Another bird of the grasslands, a considerably larger icterid, is the Eastern Meadowlark. Seen here off Immokalee Rd, Collier Co. FL. When first described, it was erroneously confused with its ecological twin and look-a-like the African Yellow-throated Longclaw -- a completely unrelated species from the Old World.

Finally, some random herons.
A tricolored heron seen at Harns Marsh.

A green heron seen at Corkscrew Swamp.

... and, a yellow-crowned night heron (also seen at the Swamp).

To offer equal taxonomic opportunity to all Classes (not just Aves) but also Insecta -- here is a Queen butterfly seen at Harns:
and from the class Mammalia, two beautiful aquatic weasels, or North American River Otters. 
Completely at home in the water and rarely seen on land, these beautiful animal's range in their native country has shrunk severely through loss of habitat and pollution.

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