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16 Species of Warbler in One Strangler Fig

September 24, 2012

by Rafael Galvez

I stopped by Founders Park in Plantation Key today during the early afternoon. It was drizzling nearly the entire time, and bird activity was excellent throughout my entire visit.

I immediately gravitated towards the northern end of the park, which has been excellent for birds during my last visits. A medium-sized Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea) caught my attention because it had several birds on it. Soon I noticed the small fruit hanging all over the tree, and birds gorging on the red ripe ones. One of the first birds I noticed was a Nashville Warbler. Soon, several other species were evident, including many thrushes, orioles and tanagers.

Nashville Warbler is never the most common migrant through South Florida, but a place to look for it during the fall seems to be the Florida Keys. I had visited Founders Park 10 days earlier with Michelle Davis and we had seen a Nashville in that general vicinity. It came to mind that this could be the same bird. I remained under that Strangler Fig for about 45 minutes, and eventually saw 2 simultaneous Nashvilles, which seemed somewhat associated with Tennessee Warblers. However, there were so many birds on that tree that it was difficult to get a clear sense of movements.

Tennessee and Cape May seemed like the most common warbler species, although there were plenty of Northern Parula and Black-throated Blue. Magnolia, Yellow and Northern Waterthrush were represented by a single individual. The other warblers species ranged from few to several.

The calls of Red-eyed Vireos could be heard often; and not surprisingly since the species was everywhere. Wherever I looked while beneath this tree, I caught glimpse of birds with red fruit on their bills: Worm-eating, Black-throated Blue, Prairie, four Baltimore Orioles!

Then the calls of thrushes seemed all about. Soon there were 6 thrushes in the tree, going for the figs. I don’t know how many thrushes I saw in the end, for the birds did not stay still much. However, I got fantastic looks at several Swainson’s, one Veery and one Gray-cheecked.

As I pulled away from the tree to get some perspective, I noticed a Summer Tanager atop, and soon another. Orioles were also fleeting nearby. Up high over the park, a single Mississippi Kite flew by southward. Before I was back at the car, a Merlin flew by in aloof chase of Starlings.

Some of the species seen from beneath the Strangler Fig at Founders Park:

Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart
Worm-eating Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Summer Tanager
Baltimore Oriole

The results for the hawkwatch for September 24:

Back at Curry Hammock State Park, before the end of the count day, sometime around the 16:00 hour, 9 Mississippi Kites flew by far near the bay.

Mississippi Kites at FKH on September 21. Photos by Ted Keyel.

Osprey                      14
Northern Harrier            28
Sharp-shinned Hawk          23
Cooper’s Hawk                9
Broad-winged Hawk            2
American Kestrel            55
Merlin                      11
Peregrine Falcon            30
Swallow-tailed Kite          2
Mississippi Kite            10
Total:                    184

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Butterfield permalink
    September 25, 2012 10:00 am

    Nice. I used to go to Plantation Yacht Harbor, now Founder’s Park, as a weekend guest of the owners and then with Eddie Rosenberg to watch hawks!

    See you Monday, 10/1, with Karen.


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