Florida Beach Birds

[video] Cardinal mother and father feed their babies

I had to go to work and didn’t get to see the last two baby cardinals fledge this morning, but I was able to grab this video of them getting a nice pre-fledging meal from their parents!


[Video] Baby Cardinal Leaves Nest for the First Time

A second set of cardinals nested in the decorative lantern on our front porch (thanks, Amy!) You can see the daily progression of the first set of cardinals here.

Here is a video of the first of the baby cardinals fledging taken 6/12/12 in Fayetteville, AR.

Super Moon 2012

Taken May 5, 2012 at Pensacola Beach, FL.




Opuntia cymochila

This cactus (Opuntia cymochila) began growing in our front yard a couple years ago, and this year it flowered.


Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals EPILOGUE

I was at work when the baby cardinals left the nest, but the ever-amazing Anne Gresham was able to get these amazing photos of them as they were learning to fly in the backyard.


Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals Day 10 – Fledging Day



And then, suddenly, they were gone.



Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals Day 9

They’re starting to overflow the nest, and are definitely unwilling to pose for any more pictures.

Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals SPECIAL FEATURE: Meet the Parents


This guy has been a fantastic dad.  He not only brings the chicks and their mother all sorts of bugs and grubs to munch on all day long, he’s never out of earshot and comes swooping in as soon as a giant human climbs up on the railing to screw with his kids.

The real star of the show has been Claudia, though.  She is plopped on her brood day and night and only leaves for a few minutes at a time, and then only to go find them more food, without so much as a playstation 3 to bide her time.

Congrats, cardinals!  Hope your next batch is this successful!



Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals Day 8


The little guys are starting to overflow their nest.  Now that they can see, they have apparently decided that they do not like me one bit and hunker down instead of blindly (and sickeningly–see previous post) beg for food.  Their feathers are coming in nicely, though, and they’re (according to my personal reference librarian) all set to fledge in just a few days!


Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals Day 7


The baby cardinals are one week old and getting more and more precious by the second.  Just look at those cute little peepers that are wide open as of today!  Not to mention all the new feathers and horrible, horrible little neck veins!



Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals Day 6








Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Caridnals Day 5

Front Porch Friends – Cardinal Babies Day 4


Their Primary Feathers have started coming in nicely!  Thanks wife-bro Anne for filling me in that those horrid looking ebony spikes are Primary Feathers!

Good night little ones! I’m glad your eyeballs are starting to fit the size of your face (but still not there yet).



Front Porch Friends(tm) – Baby Cardinals Day 3


I’m proud to report that #3 is alive and well (and hideous and hungry).

They’re all still quite sleepy, though.





Front Porch Friends(tm): Baby Cardinals Day 2!


The cardinal babies were born last night!

I heard them start peepin’ at about 4:30 in the morning.  They were totally silent this morning and when I got home from work, so I thought I had dreamed it until Claudia flew away and I was able to sneak up there to take a peek.

All three eggs hatched, but two seemed much more active than the other one and apparently thought the clicking of shutter meant they were about to be fed.



Hang in there, #3! The first day is the hardest!

Porch Friends 2012 – Northern Cardinal

Spring has brought a lot of new Porch Friends(tm) around!

Here’s our messy (but cozy!) front porch.


Why, what’s that in the little decorative lantern thing we got from a dearly missed friend?





Well I’ll be!  It’s a nesting Northern Cardinal!




After I got that close, she flew off to a nearby branch and gave me the most intimidating look a bird has ever given a human.





And then began calling for her companion, who promptly swooped in to the rescue.





But, he didn’t quite understand what the issue was, and left.

I followed him a little bit, and when he noticed my incessant snapping of photos, he gave me a shitty look and promptly flew off.




Anyway, it’s hard to get a shot into the lady’s nest, but it looks like she’s got three eggs.  She’s been sitting since last week (3/27/12), which means she should be due tomorrow (12 days later- 4/8/12)!



Good luck, Claudia the Cardinal! Plowerhouse those little BB cardinals. We believe in ya!



Spring St. Sunset


Porch Friends – North American Raccoon

All information from the surprisingly fascinating wikipedia article on raccoons.

The word “raccoon” was adopted into English from the native Powhatan term, as used in the Virginia Colony. It was recorded on Captain John Smith’s list of Powhatan words as aroughcun, and on that of William Strachey as arathkone. It has also been identified as a Proto-Algonquian root *ahrah-koon-em, meaning “[the] one who rubs, scrubs and scratches with its hands”.

Among others, the Dakota Sioux believed the raccoon had natural spirit powers, since its mask resembled the facial paintings, two-fingered swashes of black and white, used during rituals to connect to spirit beings. The Aztecs linked supernatural abilities especially to females, whose commitment to their young was associated with the role of wise women in the tribal society.

In a study by the ethologist H. B. Davis in 1908, raccoons were able to open 11 of 13 complex locks in less than 10 tries and had no problems repeating the action when the locks were rearranged or turned upside down. … Studies in 1963, 1973, 1975 and 1992 concentrated on raccoon memory showed they can remember the solutions to tasks for up to three years. 

Captive raccoons douse their food more frequently when a watering hole with a layout similar to a stream is not farther away than 3 m (10 ft). The widely accepted theory is that dousing is a vacuum activity imitating foraging at shores for aquatic foods. This is supported by the observation that such foods are doused more frequently. 

For climbing down a tree headfirst—an unusual ability for a mammal of its size—a raccoon rotates its hind feet so they are pointing backwards. Raccoons have a dual cooling system to regulate their temperature; that is, they are able to both sweat and pant for heat dissipation… The penis bone of males is about 10 cm (4 in) long and strongly bent at the front end and is often used by biologists to classify reproductive status of specimens. 

On April 12, 1934, two pairs of pet raccoons were released into the German countryside at the Edersee reservoir in the north of Hesse by forest superintendent Wilhelm Freiherr Sittich von Berlepsch, upon request of their owner, the poultry farmer Rolf Haag. He released them two weeks before receiving permission from the Prussian hunting office to “enrich the fauna”… A second population was established in East Germany in 1945 when 25 raccoons escaped from a fur farm at Wolfshagen east of Berlin after an air strike. The two populations are parasitologically distinguishable: 70% of the raccoons of the Hessian population are infected with the roundworm Baylisascaris procyonis, but none of the Brandenburgian population has the parasite. The estimated number of raccoons was 285 animals in the Hessian region in 1956, over 20,000 animals in the Hessian region in 1970 and between 200,000 and 400,000 animals in the whole of Germany in 2008.

While primarily hunted for their fur, raccoons were also a source of food for Native Americans and Americans and barbecued raccoon was a traditional food on American farms. It was often a festive meal. Raccoon was eaten by American slaves at Christmas, but it was not necessarily a dish of the poor or rural; in San Francisco’s The Golden Era of December 21, 1856, raccoon is among the specialties advertised for the holiday, and US President Calvin Coolidge’s pet raccoon Rebecca was originally sent to be served at the White House Thanksgiving Dinner… its culinary use is mainly identified with certain regions of the American South like Arkansas where the Gillett Coon Supper is an important political event.

Copulation, including foreplay, can last over an hour and is repeated over several nights. The weaker members of a male social group also are assumed to get the opportunity to mate, since the stronger ones cannot mate with all available females. In a study in southern Texas during the mating seasons from 1990 to 1992, about one third of all females mated with more than one male… After usually 63 to 65 days of gestation (although anywhere from 54 to 70 days is possible), a litter of typically two to five young is born.