Last Sunday was another gorgeous winter afternoon in Florida so Patti and I decided to head out to the Viera Wetlands for a walk. The Wetlands is a series of manmade ponds used to naturally treat wastewater prior to its release into the St. Johns River system. These ponds are surrounded by berms topped with gravel roads that can be driven, biked or walked. They are also a huge attraction for gators, otters, raccoons and, primarily, birds. Many, many birds. We go out there a few times a year, but it seems that we always, without intending to, end up taking a walk there on the weekend that the birders descend upon Brevard County.

Each year thousands of birders congregate in Titusville, which is just up the road from us and is considered the gateway to the Kennedy Space Center. This area is a major stopping point for many different species of migratory birds, as well as being the year-round home for many others. These birders come down to spot birds that are not common where they live. It seems that there are three major spots for these folks to wander about with their cameras, binoculars and life lists: the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge (co-located with the Space Center), the Brevard County dump (who knew!) and the Viera Wetlands (technically the Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera). What this all means is that a) we saw lots of birds and b) we saw lots of birders.

Now, my knowledge of birds is, for the most part, confined to the fact that they have wings and tend to crap on you at the beach (ask Patti about this, she’s an expert). I can identify a few species by name but normally it’s just: “Look: a bird!” Faithful readers of this blog may recall that when I needed an identification of a specific bird of prey, I contacted my friend and Audubon member, George, for help. (See here for that story.) So, for the education of all of us, let’s put him to the test.

George: what are the birds below, besides wonderful to watch?

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands
Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands
Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands
Viera, FL 1/26/14

Note the meal in his/her beak Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands Viera, FL 1/26/14

Note the meal in his/her beak
Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands
Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands Viera, FL 1/26/14

Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands
Viera, FL 1/26/14

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