Summer Birding

It is after mid-May in southwest Florida and a general depression has descended on some birders. The daily frantic and expectant searching for new warblers passing through has tailed off, the days are getting hot and sometimes it seems like the only birds around are grackles and house sparrows.

But a quick check in a field guide reveals that some gaps in the year list can be filled by birds only found here in summer. My personal favorite is the graceful Swallow-tailed Kite. I can lose track of time watching one quarter a field, wheeling, soaring, dipping and turning with apparently effortless ease. The first sighting reported for Lee County in e-bird this year was February 18th. I saw my first of the season in early March.

So what else should I find here in only in the summer?

  • Yellow-billed cuckoo — Reported in the county (on April 17th this year) but I’ve only seen it on the family farm up near Gainesville.
  • Common Nighthawk — The “Bull Bat” of my childhood. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot once the insect population explodes! Earliest arrival this year recorded on April 10th.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird — First record on March 29th. I usually see an individual or two when the red flowers are in bloom around the house and work.
  • Gray Kingbird — Reported April 4th. I saw two today driving back from lunch.
  • Purple Martin — This year reported on Feb. 1. There are some Martin houses at Franklin Locks; maybe tomorrow.
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow — well, they get reported most of the year, I just need to get out and find them.
  • Chimney Swift — March 16th and I’m starting to see them regularly.
  • Summer Tanager — Someone reported one right near where I live on March 2nd. I have only seen it at the farm.

So there is some birding to look forward to. The strategy is to get up early and bird before the day gets too hot to enjoy!

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Tropical Agronomist