Friday, April 5, 2013

Painted Buntings at the Visitor Center

 Florida 2013 continued (the never ending blog series!)

My mom and I finished up the Black Point Wildlife Drive at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and headed over to the Visitor Center. It was near 1:00 so we had lunch in the van then walked the boardwalk at the center looking for songbirds. Not the best time of day for birding, I admit, but again, when your time is limited you take what you can get.

There wasn't much going on along the boardwalk, but there were several different woodpeckers active along one stretch. We saw a red-bellied and a hairy, and this male yellow-bellied sapsucker. This is not a bird I see around home, and I didn't have very good images of it, so I was happy to spend a few minutes following him through the trees.

Male yellow-bellied sapsucker. The female lacks the red neck patch.

I like catching birds in motion, especially when they are just taking flight. You get some pretty interesting poses. Wings up and back, ready to flap, I love how his feet are sticking out like he's still clinging to the tree.

We walked back to the Visitor Center to check out the feeders. This is where the painted buntings are most likely to be seen. I imagine this is one of the most photographed feeders in the country. I set up my tripod and waited, and within a few minutes this little green bird flew up. I had no idea what it was. Duh.

Oooo, a mystery bird!

Shortly after we got there a couple we'd met on the boardwalk joined us. One of the women was new to birding, and her partner had been pointing out the differences in the woodpeckers. The novice watched the green bird through her binoculars while the other got out her bird book. She'd been birding around the world so I'm a little surprised she didn't just know what this was--and rattle off its Latin name while she was at.

Anyway, she flipped the pages and then said, "Ah, a female painted bunting!"  Yeah, I should have figured that one out! Look at that beak!

Female painted bunting. She would blend in very well with the lush foliage of the south.

 Shortly after ID-ing the female, the male made an appearance.

Male painted bunting. Nothing else in the States can compare, in my opinion. What a privilege to be able to see one.

Just can't get enough of this amazingly colorful bird!

Oh, this shot has potential--I love the pose! I have done an indigo bunting, and have snow bunting images from last winter. Do I see a series in the making?

And now I have a confession. The birds took off soon after this but the female stuck around (there were actually two of them) and posed prettily in a bush next to the feeder. I took lots of shots, happy to see the birds in a more natural setting. But at home, sorting through several thousand images, these all got deleted before I copied them to my computer. What I do is make folders for all the species and/or places, and copy the images to the folders, kind of sorting as I go. I must have thought I'd copied them when I deleted the images from the camera card--and when you delete images from the card, they are deleted permanently. I've checked the card and my flash drive, where I had also stored some images, but they are no where to be seen. I guess I can check the laptop as a last resort but I fear the worst. Ah well, we learn as we go. I am happy then to have any shots of her at all. Sigh.

Next: A chance encounter along the boardwalk.


  1. O, you caught the Yellow-bellied's yellow belly! The Painted Buntings are starting to sing which I love to hear, but saddened that it means they will soon be leaving their winter home. What lovely pictures you got of them!

    Kathy in Delray Beach

    1. Thanks Kathy! We don't have painted buntings here in SE Michigan so it really is a treat to see them when I go to Florida. We should be getting our indigo buntings back in a few weeks.