Twenty birders joined Larry Manfredi this morning for a half day of birding along the L31-W Canal, which forms the eastern boundary of Everglades National Park near the park’s Homestead entrance. Early arrivers enjoyed great views of a Barn Owl and Northern Harrier hunting over the fields adjacent to the parking area. Shortly after we started our walk, we encountered a noisy flock of Blue Jays in the pines across the canal that seemed to be engaged in mobbing behavior. We suspected they were mobbing a Great Horned Owl, but we were unable to spot it. Birds we did see along the canal included five different flycatchers: Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher and Western Kingbird.
The resident Smooth-billed Ani was waiting for us when we arrived at the bend in the canal, 1.5 miles north of our starting point, providing excellent photo opportunities. A wintering Yellow Warbler was heard and briefly seen in the large Ficus tree at the canal bend. This was supposed to be our turnaround point, but rather than return to the parking area the way we came, we decided to add an extra mile to our hike by heading east into Frog Pond Wildlife Management Area. This change of plans added several birds to our trip list, including Sora (heard), Sandhill Crane, White-tailed Kite, Short-tailed and Swainson’s Hawk, Cave Swallow, Grasshopper, White-crowned and Savannah Sparrow and Indigo Bunting. A White-tailed Deer was also seen along the way.
After returning to the parking area, Larry invited us to visit the backyard feeders at his home in Homestead. Several of us followed him to his house, where we added several bonus birds to our trip list, including Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Painted Bunting and three different cowbirds: Brown-headed, Bronzed and Shiny! By morning’s end, we had tallied 73 species, all of which are listed in this eBird trip report. All eBird lists for the morning were compiled by Luis Gonzalez.
Smooth-billed Ani: Photo by Luis Gonzalez