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WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Florida: The South, the Keys and the Dry Tortugas

2016 Narrative

In Brief: The 2016 WINGS Spring Florida tour provided a great survey of the habitats and avifauna of this remarkable region.  We started off in the Florida pineywoods, with singing Bachman’s Sparrows, inquisitive Florida Scrub-Jays and wonderfully cooperative Red-cockaded Woodpeckers.  The journey then took in such wonderful sights as the seemingly endless “sea of grass” of the Everglades, the heavily developed metropolitan coastline of Southeast Florida, which maintains a nice selection of protected areas and shelters many more species than just the “exotics” that it is known for, the beautiful cypress bottomlands, heavily laden with epiphytes and flowers, the upland pine/oak scrub and grassland savannahs of the central peninsula, coastal mangroves and bays, and stretches of sparkling white sand beaches.  Florida provided outstanding and repeated views of wading birds such as Glossy and White Ibis, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, 13 species of Herons including both American and Least Bitterns, and Limpkin, many of which were on nests and decked out in their full breeding regalia.  The tropical climate of South Florida supports large numbers of exotic species and on the tour we located several species of parrots alongside the aristocratic Common Myna (slumming in a fast food parking lot), the beautiful Spot-breasted Oriole and the colorful, if a bit imposing, Gray-headed Swamphen. Enroute to the Dry Tortugas we found both Brown and Masked Boobies, as well as foraging groups of Bridled and Roseate Terns. Out at the fort the dry and hot conditions limited the number of migrants present, but the diversity was still excellent, with an impressive 15 species of warblers, 5 species of swallows, Black-whiskered and Red-eyed Vireo, and Gray-cheeked and Swainson’s Thrushes and Veery.  The Florida Keys revealed their lurking Mangrove Cuckoos, White-crowned Pigeons, and with some effort even some slightly early Antillean Nighthawks.   Caribbean strays proved elusive this year, with Cuban and Thick-billed Vireos evaporating just days before our visit.  In and around urban Miami we found the full sweep of ‘countable’ exotics, including the newly minted Egyptian Goose, brightly colored Red-whiskered Bulbul and Spot-breasted Oriole, and somewhat dubious Muscovy Ducks.  On our last day we visited some spectacular wading bird colonies, where breeding Wood Storks, Anhingas and herons were only feet away from us on the boardwalk.  One of our last stops was at an area where we successfully located a breeding pair of Smooth-billed Anis, perhaps Florida’s rarest breeding bird, and one that has been largely absent for many years.  It was a busy but great week in what is surely one of most unique landscapes and avifaunas of the United States.

In Detail: We started off this year’s Spring Florida tour with a bang by heading north from Fort Myers to explore the slash pine uplands and brush country of central Florida. Although we experienced patches of dense fog in the early morning, it soon burned off, leaving us with a bright blue sky as we explored the huge preserve. As we neared the beginning of the quite extensive pine forest some sharp eyed participants spotted three Northern Bobwhite that were sitting calmly in a patch of sandy soil near the road.  We hear their somewhat plaintive calls here almost every year, but rarely manage to see these subtly beautiful quail for any length of time.  Just a bit further down the road at a wonderfully accessible colony site we enjoyed multiple views of at least two pairs of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers that were foraging just off the road, maintaining their nest cavities, and (as is often not the case) repeatedly vocalizing! Sprightly Brown-headed Nuthatches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker and Pileated Woodpecker, handsome Eastern Bluebirds, our first Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals, and several cooperative Eastern Towhees with the eerie white irises typical of the central Florida race enriched the show.  A few small American Alligators were loafing in the shallow pools along the roadsides, and we spent a bit of time looking at the array of dragonflies and small fishes, and a hunting Florida Ribbon Snake in the marshes. 

Later in the morning we stopped in at a small brush-covered residential area to enjoy Florida’s only endemic bird: the Florida Scrub-Jay.  Now very locally distributed across central Florida this species is the cause of much conservation concern, and being able to see several birds at close range relatively easily was a real treat.  The birds were sated, as the nearby oak trees were heavily laden with acorns, but our proffered almonds were still met with some interest.  As we watched the jays hopping around in an undeveloped patch of scrub we were elated to spot a large male Gopher Tortoise crossing a nearby road.  These impressive tortoises have a range that closely matches that of the other piney woods specialties, and like them is a species of conservation concern.  We followed him a bit as he trundled down the verge of the road, pausing a few times to lop the top off a particularly delectable plant, and then we turned the vans further north.  A mid-day stop at a large wetland complex near Sarasota allowed us to see our first Limpkins, along with Glossy and White Ibis, and a wonderful assortment of shorebirds from the newly constructed marsh boardwalk including fresh plumaged Long-billed Dowitchers and a few Stilt Sandpipers.  Least Terns were courting and carrying fish around the marshes, and Ospreys were seemingly everywhere.  Of particular note was the group of extremely vocal Red-shouldered Hawks that circled us at close range, a flyover American Bittern, and several dazzling male Bobolinks in nearly full plumage that we found in some dense seeding grasses.  The new parking lot for the park featured a much appreciated bathroom block and several active Purple Martin houses, which permitted us to have some excellent views of about a dozen martins.                                                                                                 

Near some large fruiting Mulberry trees we found a few migrants finding shelter in the trees and using the provided freshwater fountain.  Blackpoll and Black-and-White Warblers dominated, but Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Summer and a single female Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Buntings and a Wood Thrush provided a solid hour of entertaining birding.  With closer scrutiny we picked out single Worm-eating and Black-throated Blue Warblers and two nice male Hooded’s.  At the far east end of the island we located a very approachable mixed flock of shorebirds, including our first Short-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers (one in nearly full alternate plumage) and many Western Willets, Sanderling, Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones. As we turned south for Fort Meyers we had one more treat in store.  Perhaps the main reason for continuing north this year though was to connect with one of Florida’s newly-minted established exotic birds; the colorful and large Nanday Parakeet.  As we left the fort we noticed a pair of parakeets perched up in some tall Norfolk Island Pines along the road. We stopped to scope the birds from just below the tree, and were able to see all the plumage details in excellent light.  These large parrots are quite colorful, with their black heads, bluish wings and bright red pantaloons, and we were happy to show them off to a few curious condo owners who came out to see what we were up to. Happy with our first parrot of the tour we continued on to dinner back in Sarasota arriving back in Fort Myers quite late, but with a wealth of excellent sightings swimming in our heads. 

On day two we began by visiting a nearby freshwater marsh, where large wading birds are typically much in evidence.  We found the water levels to be unusually high this year, but elected to walk out on the dike anyway.  A smattering of herons, including very close Tricolored and Little Blues were showing off nicely, and along the margins of the water we reveled in the views of a postcard perfect adult Glossy Ibis fairly glowing in the early morning sun.  Several pairs of Mottled Ducks were around the marsh, as well as a somewhat disconcerting number of Black Vultures and many Common Gallinules and American Coots.  Perhaps the stars of the show on the walk out though were the many hulking Limpkins that we watched as they vocalized, flew around and picked apart apple snails near the path.  Several dazzling odonates including Halloween and Four spotted Pennants and Eastern Pondhawks distracted us as we walked back to the cars.  Just as we were about to leave a sharp eyed participant picked out a flying Least Bittern that quickly dropped back into dense cover.  After some judicious use of playback the bird moved a bit closer and then crept out into the open in a large clump of Alligator Flag.  Being able to watch this cryptic but beautiful bird at length in the scope was an instant hit with the group.  We left the marsh and started casually checking the dikes and neighborhood nearby for Snail Kites.  A family group of Sandhill Cranes with two small colts was feeding in a suburban yard as we passed by, interesting yard birds for most places, but oddly commonplace in parts of Florida. Along another neighborhood road near the marsh we were happy to spot a beautiful Red-headed Woodpecker perched on the top of a utility pole. These dazzling Red, White and Black Woodpeckers are local in south Florida, and we rarely encounter them on our tour, so it was a real treat to have such good views.  As we drove away from the woodpecker we decided to recheck a canal and at the first available perch found an adult Snail Kite perched on a nearby post. We watched as the bird switched perches, carrying a large apple snail in its talons.  It then casually extracted the meat using its amazingly thin and curved bill and flew off down the canal for another snail.  Timing and luck certainly come into play once and awhile in birding!  After some time back at the hotel to pack up and stock up on coffee we were off to Cape Coral, where, amidst a baseball field and housing development we found several artificial burrows created for Burrowing Owls.  We checked three separate burrows, and found adults at two of them, using the car as a blind at very close range.  Nearby we noticed some large nests in the light standards over the fields, and after driving over for a closer look we soon picked up several garrulous, if somewhat somberly dressed Monk Parakeets as they tended to their bulky stick nests.

As was the case in 2014, the tides were not favorable for us along the western shore of the state in the morning, so we started our trip to the south in the late morning.  Enroute to eastern Florida we stopped to check the beaches of Fort Myers, where we were unfortunately unable to find easy access to the often productive Estero Lagoons.  We consoled ourselves with close range views of a winter plumaged Common Loon (surprisingly a write-in species for the cumulative trip list), and then left the coast, veering inland as we began to cross the Peninsula along the old road through the Everglades. A stop to explore the Big Cyprus Preserve, allowed us to take in the boardwalk that passes through a dense cypress swamp, and to admire the dense bromeliad laden vegetation, lush ground cover of ferns and mosses and towering trees.   The forest was very dry this year, due to a persistent drought, but we still managed to drum up a few new birds even in the heat of the day, with Downy Woodpecker, singing Tufted Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo, Northern Parula, sprightly Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and an impressive pair of Bald Eagles.   A migrant flock of warblers added some excitement, with Blackpoll, American Redstart, Black-and-White and Black-throated Green foraging above the boardwalk.  The pool at the end of the boardwalk was full of fish, including several exotic species that have become established around the Everglades.  Also here was a large pair of American Alligators, likely happy to dine on the fish regardless of their origins.  Also here we studied a selection of butterflies including a wonderfully fresh Great Southern White and a worn but still spectacular Ruddy Daggerwing.   Before reaching our hotel in Florida City we elected to stop to bird around the neighborhood of Kendall, a little south of Miami, in an effort to track down a number of established (and non-established) exotics. In the ponds around the Kendall Baptist Hospital we quickly located a pair of Egyptian Geese, recently minted as countable by the state of Florida and the ABA.  Also here were a number of Muscovy Ducks, which, although a far cry from the wary, all black birds that course over the Rio Grande River in Texas are also deemed to be countable.  Nearby in the hospital roof we found some noisy Mitred and a few Red-masked Parakeets nesting under the curved terracotta roof tiles.  A visit to the residential neighborhood north of the hospital revealed a Red-whiskered Bulbul preening on a low utility wire.  This attractive bird has a very limited range in southern Miami and a small population size, so seeing one in such a rapid fashion was quite a treat.  We then settled into a nearby nice Cuban restaurant to enjoy dinner while the Miami traffic slowed down and then headed south for our hotel in Florida City.

We spent the morning of day 3 exploring the world famous Everglades National Park.  The seemingly endless “sea of grass” of the Everglades, complete with tropical hardwoods, Cyprus and slash pine hammocks and lush coastal mangroves is an amazing ecosystem to travel through.  We started along the main park road where a quick stop and a short conversation with some roadside crows revealed that, unlike in the other areas of the tour where Fish Crows dominate, these crows were American Crows.  Some judicious searching in the freshwater grasslands along the road revealed a couple of very distantly perched Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows.  Although we waited for a while, thankful that the dry conditions had reduced the normal swarms of horseflies to a more manageable level the birds did not cooperate, so we contented ourselves with hearing these endangered sparrows and then continued on to the end of the road to search through the marina area and mudflats of Flamingo. The large trees around the marina held a number of really approachable Red-bellied Woodpeckers, active Red-shouldered Hawks, singing Ospreys and a few American Swallow-tailed Kites.  The trees around the visitor center held Great Crested Flycatcher and territorial Prairie Warblers, and some very interesting seed pods.  We walked around the grassy areas near the boat docks and located a small flock of foraging cowbirds and Starlings.  With just a little work we picked out and admired a male and two female Shiny Cowbirds foraging within the flock.  The purplish gloss, thin bill and upturned tail of the male definitely made him distinctive, but it took a little digging to find the females.  Perhaps though the stars of the area were both non-avian.  Around the tiny Florida Marina we found a large American Crocodile lounging in a small canal, and around the boat docks some careful searching revealed at least two West Indian Manatees!  Although both species are regularly encountered here it is a lucky morning when you can find them so easily! The manatees surfaced for air repeatedly with their odd cow-like snouts just off the docks, showing their paddle-shaped tail and patterned backs to excellent effect.  The Crocodile showed well also, and we were able to note the narrow snout, exposed teeth, flat head and very large back ridges that help to separate this rare and endangered species from its more common Alligator cousins.  Along the shoreline at the end of the road a small flock of herons and gulls was waiting for the high tide to recede, offering us excellent views of acrobatically feeding Reddish Egrets, and several American White Pelicans, and even some distantly foraging Bottlenosed Dolphins that were chasing fish in the extremely shallow water.

On the way out of the park we stopped at a Wood Stork rookery, with perhaps 30 pairs of birds.  A few Roseate Spoonbills and Anhingas were also breeding in the colony and the noise and commotion of the crush of birdlife was impressive. A walk down a boardwalk through the freshwater marshes revealed very close-up views of American Alligators, a beautiful Regal Darner and a host of fish species (most introduced, but still sufficiently tasty for the toothier denizens of the marsh).  After a refreshing fruit milkshake from a local fruit stand we made the scenic drive down to Key West. This long highway crosses dozens of small keys, with dazzlingly blue water often on both sides, and coral reefs visible under the crystal clear water.  We stopped on the way down at a small high-tide shorebird roost on Ohio Key.  Here we were able to sift through a mixed flock of birds that contained Black-bellied Plovers in a wide variety of plumage stages, Short-billed Dowitchers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and a few more dancing Reddish Egrets.  We arrived in Key West in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel.  Key West is a historic city that has combined its authentic architecture and relaxed feeling with the draws of a major tourist destination to good effect.  The large trees and heavily ornamental plantings are attractive to migrant birds and also to our quarry before dinner.  Enroute to a local Peruvian restaurant we stopped along a quiet residential street near the hotel where some large fig trees were fruiting.  A pair of White-crowned Pigeons were enjoying the feast, and we were able to watch them for some time, admiring their namesake white crown, pale iris, grooved feathers on their necks and deep navy blue bodies.  These attractive pigeons become quite common in Florida’s summer, even as far north as greater Miami where they are attracted to the ornamental fruiting trees in suburban Kendall and Cutler. Seeing one of them though really did reinforce the idea that we had left the subtropics of central Florida and arrived in the Caribbean. 

For the duration of our tour this year we experienced hotter and drier conditions than is typical for South Florida, and the day of our day-trip out to the Tortugas dawned clear and warm.  With no storm fronts in the area, and little chance for rain we did not have high hopes for a fall-out on the island, but even these “slow” days are potentially exciting in the Tortugas, as birds land here in any weather.  The ride out was splendid, over calm and sparkling azure blue waters.  This year we traversed the ‘northern’ route, which passes through mostly shallow waters.  An adult Pomarine Jaeger and some very distant Bridled Terns were undoubtedly the avian highlights, but the dozen or so Green Sea Turtles and small groups of flying fish were certainly nice as well.  As we neared the park boundary we noted three Brown Boobies sitting on one of the yellow National Park Service buoys, with one young bird making repeated short flights around the bobbing perch.  Browns are vastly outnumbered here by Masked Boobies, which have established a good-sized breeding colony on Hospital Key, and are generally seen sitting on offshore markers.  We actually stopped quite close to Hospital Key shortly after seeing the Brown Boobies and were happy to see that the Masked Booby colony is doing very well, with upwards of 60 birds loafing on the remarkably tiny sandy islet.  Once out at the fort we saw thousands of Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns wheeling around the Key and sitting on the nearby nesting colony on Bush Key.  Also present were many dozens of Magnificent Frigatebirds, which nest on the outlying part of Bush Key.  At one point in the morning we scoped their colony and were able to watch several males with their bizarre red throat sacs fully inflated.  We spent quite a bit of time scanning the colony and the adjacent coal dock piers for the reported single Black Noddy, which had been in the area in the early morning, but were unfortunately unable to find it.  The bird seems to spend much of its day out at sea, being more regularly seen early and late in the day (outside of the times that the day-ferry is present on the island).  In addition to the cacophonous seabirds the fort offers some vegetation and foraging opportunities for tired migrant birds.  During our stay on the island we lucked into small fallout of migrants.  In every bush a few birds lurked about, actively foraging, or coming into oranges provided by some helpful campers.  We saw an amazing 15 species of warblers, from the beautiful Magnolia and Black-throated Blue, to the more subtle Worm-eating and Ovenbird.  Also present were several Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed and Black-whiskered Vireos, Indigo Buntings, Bobolink, and a few Gray-cheeked Thrushes and Veery. Even after a few hours of wandering around the fort we were still picking up new species and individuals. On the way back to Key West we were fortunate to have very close views of several more groups of Bridled Terns and two groups of foraging Roseate Terns near Key West. We capped the day off with a delectable seafood dinner near the fishing pier of downtown Key West.

As no Antillean Nighthawks had been reported around the Key West Airport as of the time of our tour we elected to make an early morning run north to reach some spots where the species is often recorded earlier in the season.  Once we reached the area on Big Pine Key it took only 5 minutes of waiting before we detected the characteristic pit-a-ta-tic calls from a flying Antillean Nighthawk.  As the sky began to brighten we were soon able to find two birds giving their swooping flight displays while calling vigorously.  We watched them for about 20 minutes and then headed back to Key West for breakfast. We made a quick stop at the Key West Golf Course where we located a Bonaparte’s Gull hiding in with a large number of Laughing Gulls, and admired some truly gigantic Green Iguanas that were lounging on the greens.  We spent the rest of the morning of enjoying some of the parks around Key West.  At Fort Zachary Taylor we were surprised to find an out-of-range Pileated Woodpecker, and a few lingering migrants including Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a very dapper male American Redstart.  We spent a bit of time in the area that the previously reported Cuban Vireo had been frequenting a few days prior to our arrival, but could not coax it back for a repeat performance.  Just as we were gearing up to leave the park though Evan spotted a Mangrove Cuckoo quietly feeding right along the edge of the parking lot!  We quickly hurried over and enjoyed scope views, following the bird across the street and into the same Gumbo-limbo tree that the Vireo had been using. Although occluded by vegetation the bird moved several more times, even remaining for more telescope views at one point.  Its buffy breast and belly, and brownish/gray back lacking rufous in the wings were clearly visible. This species is generally one of the most wanted birds by participants on the Florida spring tour, and can be devilishly difficult to consistently locate.  I think all agreed that our  views of this cagey but subtly beautiful bird were deeply satisfying, and the relative ease of this year’s bird meant that we could spend the rest of the day slowly working our way back to Miami.  A late morning stop along Boca Chica Beach revealed a nice assortment of wading birds at a high-tide roost.  Among the by now familiar Sanderling, Dunlin, Turnstones and Short-billed Dowitchers we picked out a single Red Knot, and a somewhat uncooperative Wilson’s Plover.  In the beachside vegetation we located two Tennessee Warblers, our 18th (and final) species of Warbler for this year’s trip.  Once back in Marathon we took lunch in a small Cuban café, with an incredibly friendly staff and remarkably strong coffee.  After lunch we made the somewhat lengthy drive back into the urban jungle of Miami, with a last stop for the day at the somewhat less scenic Dolphin Mall. . Here we had one target bird; the Gray-headed Swamphen.  A larger relative of our local Common and Purple Gallinules, the Swamphens have been spreading from their original release site in Pembroke Pines.  They are highly predatory and will likely be detrimental to the Everglades Ecosystem (along with Caiman, Pythons, Wild Boars and a host of other introduced species).  Efforts to eradicate them by the Florida Fish and Game have been labeled as unsuccessful and have been abandoned, and the birds are now continuing to spread into the marshes of southern Florida.  Although undeniably a problem for the environment the birds are impressive, and very colorful.  For such large birds they can be somewhat unobtrusive, vanishing into taller reedbeds with astonishing speed.  This year though we found about a dozen individuals foraging around the artificial lake, and even walking out on the manicured lawns.  Dinner at a Cuban Restaurant soon followed, and then we made the short 10 minute drive to our base for the next two nights, at our Miami Airport hotel. 

Our last day is usually dedicated to the pursuit of any special species that we may have missed, with several stops in coastal hardwood hammocks for migrants and a few wetlands for another round of enjoying Florida’s myriad waterbirds.  We started the day looking at a small flock of White-winged Parakeets perched in some date palms in a suburban Miami neighborhood.  Although scarcer in South Florida than its (unlistable) congener the Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, this species has officially been added to the ABA list. Then we were off to several spots around the city of Fort Lauderdale. Given the recent reports of Smooth-billed Anis at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge we elected to make that our priority for the morning.  Although we arrived before 9am the temperature was already climbing and the sun was quite intense.  We pulled into the parking lot and watched with some bemusement as a female Pileated Woodpecker sat on a small parked car, checking out her reflection in the mirror and even using the rubber stripping around the passenger window to crawl up the glass!  We walked out the mile or so to the area in which the Anis had been reported, stopping to admire the hulking and colorful Lubber Grasshoppers that were plentiful along the grassy dikes, and some feeding Little Blue Herons, Limpkin, Snowy Egrets and Ibis in the marsh.  Once we reached the area it took only a few minutes before we spotted one of the Anis perched up on a tall reed. Smooth-billed Anis have effectively vanished as a breeding bird in Florida, and the last year that we had recorded this species on a WINGS tour was 2010.  In the intervening years one or two Anis were reported annually in scattered locations across the southern half of the state, but no successful nests were known.  As the birds use rank grasslands and wetlands with shrubs (both habitats with a wide distribution in the state but with very limited access) I suspect that the species is holding on in small pockets of suitable habitat, but having a pair so readily accessible was a real highlight for the tour this year.  We watched the Ani for some time, as it appeared to be standing guard over a dense shrub that may well have contained its mate and nest, and then headed back to the cars and lunch at a nearby café. 

After lunch we visited the Wakadohatchee Wetlands, where we marveled at the wading birds of South Florida in their replete breeding dress, with many species were actively feeding young.  The sight of a nearly fully-grown Great Blue Heron chicks begging for a handout from its parent was priceless, as were the antics of the very young Anhinga babies (fuzzy and white with comically oversized webbed feet) constantly looking for their next meal, and the incredibly bright nuptial coloration of the Great Egrets and Cattle Egrets.  As we walked the boardwalk we had very close views of most of the common marshbirds on the peninsula.  Some of the scarcer species were in evidence too, with some Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks resting in the shade, and three incredible Purple Gallinules stalking the reedbeds.  This stunning bird is surely one of North America’s most colorful, and we felt fortunate indeed to watch one individual preening right at our feet and in near perfect light.  The reflective blues, indigos, purples and greens of its back and wing feathers are a sight to behold.  Least Bitterns were here as well, with an adult sitting in a nearby reedbed along the boardwalk.  I always feel fortunate to see this often highly cryptic species, and this year’s views were excellent. WE spent a bit of time studying the cormorants along the boardwalk, as most of the birds here exhibit some hybrid characters between Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorants.  One bird looked quite close to a pure Neotropic, but most of the individuals were not assignable to either species.  Then we visited Richardson Park, a small heavily vegetated city park along a deep canal that has a proven track record of producing excellent birds.  As was the case everywhere we looked, a few migrants were about, including a couple of cooperative Ovenbirds and a lingering female Painted Bunting.  In the parking lot we watched as Red-crowned and Blue-crowned Parrots flew in and started feeding in some nearby fig trees.   Lizards were very much in evidence here as well, and we studied the impressive Cuban Knight Anoles and charismatic Northern Curlytails at some length.  In a nearby neighborhood we stopped to look for some reported Spot-breasted Orioles, and attracted some attention from the locals.  As if by magic the local birder Russ Titus appeared and asked if we were oriole hunting.  He led us down a local street and in no time we were enjoying views of an adult Oriole feeding a mostly grown bright yellow chick.  This large and very bright oriole, with lots of white in the wing and a smattering of small black feathers at the sides of the breast is stunning and although introduced, is perhaps the most impressive of the US Orioles. We headed back to our hotel in Miami, for a rest before a delicious Italian dinner and a wrap up of a really great week in south Florida.

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