We all heard of backyard birding, but what about front-yard birding?
Various birds visit our front yard every season, like hawks, sandhill cranes, warblers, chickadees, crows, doves, cardinals, phoebes, and more.
We also have seen many, many white Ibis foraging in the front yard, and it never really occurred to me how genuinely unique they were until I watched them.
That orange colored, long, and slender-curved bill beautifully enhance their sparkling blue eyes. Their unique designed bills enable these birds to probe inches beneath the sand or moist soils to pinch and pull up any critters buried to the surface.
As I was sitting in the driveway with my camera, they paid no attention to me as I took hundreds of photos. I watched them poke and prod, looking for insects and other critters that hid within the thatch layer.
I wanted to try and capture that moment when one of the birds did happen to snag an insect. Yes, we nature photographers avidly try to capture a shot of something pinched between a bird’s beak. But there was someone else that fascinated me among this group of birds—a juvenile little blue heron.
Years ago, I remembered seeing a juvenile little blue hang around a group of white ibis. I was curious why this little blue kept in the company of these birds. If I do find an answer, I will update this post.
In Florida, the white ibis is a year-long resident and can be seen along coastal shorelines to your front yard. They have a very flexible diet that includes insects, small fish, amphibians, and crustaceans.
And as many have seen these white ibis’s are always grouped together and very seldom are they alone.
Below are links for more information about the White Ibis
These birds are super neat, and I happen to be a big fan of their immature stage. It’s photographically inspiring, showcasing their color transformation from brown to pure white (except for the black wingtips on the outer four primaries). If you do see them in your front yard, just take a moment to observe them. I think it will be surprised to see many insects live below the grass blades in your front yard!
An immature ibis, a red-shouldered hawk, and American crows.
Nature happens everywhere you are, even in your neighborhood and I would like to share this personal story with you, and to some, it may affect differently.
I have learned that if I hear a group of crows making a ruckus, something is going on. The crows were loud, loud enough to pull me away from my computer and go outside. This entire event happened to be in front of our neighbor’s yard. I walked towards the neighbors house, only to find an immature ibis in the clutches of a red-shouldered hawk. The neighbors also came out wondering what was going on.
The hawk released the ibis and perched itself on a limb of the closest oak tree. I wrapped my jacket around this terrified bird, trying to comfort it. I did notice its blood-soaked eye and blood coming from its lower jawline.
I was telling the neighbors this bird wasn’t going to make it. The loss of blood seemed more than it actually was. If it didn’t make it, I would be there to comfort it until it passed on.
I walked back to the house and placed the ibis in the laundry basket. I fumbled with my phone trying to find what number to call. Everything was just a blur. So I reached out to a friend and thankfully she answered my call. I called the wildlife rehabber and explained to her what happen.
* Make a note always to have 888-404-FWCC stored in your phone or a contact number of your local wildlife rehabber- see list below.
This situation gets so complicated—wildlife survival. Hawks are birds of prey, they’re raptors. Hawks will prey on lizards, snakes, rabbits, gopher tortoise hatchlings, squirrels, doves, and ibis. My first instinct as a human being was to help the weak and wounded- the immature ibis. Even though I am fully aware this happens every day in nature, as heartbreaking as it is to know it happens, it’s even more heartbreaking and devastating to witness it happening.
Yes, I was upset with myself for interfering, knowing that I caused the hawk its meal, but as I was comforting this scared bird, its blue eyes gazed unto mine, and my heart melted; at that moment, a part of me accepted what I have done.
The crows continued to mob the hawk for another five to ten minutes until it finally flew off.
My husband and I stayed with the ibis, carefully cleaning its wounds with water-soaked paper towels. The blood stopped, and it became calmer. We checked to see if there were any other visible cuts or tears, which there was none. The ibis finally calmed down and actually stood up after 10 minutes or so and began to preen. That’s a good sign. The volunteer came and picked up the ibis to take the sanctuary to be examined.
If you do see an injured animal, please contact your local licensed wildlife rehabber.
Here’s a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators: Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators by Region (myfwc.com) or Injured and Orphaned Wildlife | FWC (myfwc.com) 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922)
So here’s the thing about crows- Mobbing.
While researching mobbing behaviors, most birds, including crows, will defend their territory against predators, especially during nesting. But what if it’s not the nesting season?
This is the second time I witnessed this particular behavior from crows, and I am not convinced that it’s all about protecting a nest, nor about harassing a predator.
The first time was at Chassahowitzka WMA. I heard the crows calling, it was loud and continuous. I also heard a hawk as I walked towards the area where all this noise was coming from. Just as I walked by a cluster of saw palmettos, a bobcat rushed out and ran across the limestone road. Of course, I wasn’t fast enough to get any clear photos, but I do know what I saw.
That mobbing behavior from the crows was precisely like the incident with the ibis. Why were the crows mobbing?
I found theories during my google research and crow’s tend to mob differently during certain situations. Maybe for this situation it was to help the weak possibly escape and to alert others there is a predator nearby. It sure alerted us.
Be safe in your travels!