The Western Spindalis, for our dear readers who are not birders: all two of you. Here's a post about why it's a cool bird, and some speculation that you might not think about when you curse at grackles for adorning your car with splatters of bird graffiti. And hopefully this will be easier to read than that RBA post ;-)
Our Western Spindalis (Spindalis zena) in the Everglades are not the first for the US, nor Florida, nor even Florida for 2009.
The male Western Spindalis (July 28, 2009)
So if these weren't even the first for 2009, what's the fuss about? Well, the first was from Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale, a whopping 77 miles, as the Google drives. There is some great discussion about the bird at Peeps Online, the American Birding Association (ABA) blog. I won't even begin to speculate as to whether or not one could be the same bird.
Here's the important part:
The female Western Spindalis (July 28, 2009)
Yes, she's very drab. We only figured her out because she sounded the same, behaved the same, and was structurally identical to the male.
So, two of these hard to find birds, together. That, my friends, is why birding during the honeymoon is a great idea ;-) It's all in the name of science. Or just fun for recently "underemployed" biologists taking a honeymoon ~4 months after the nontraditional pseudo-elopement-type wedding.
Here's a look at the habitat:
...it's pine rockland habitat [thanks, John!] with a very dense understory of Sabal Palm and some other tropical hardwoods that are kept under control by regular fires.
Here's the Florida RBA post, missing the York half of the team, but we know he did most of the work after I found the critters ;-)
I would also like to think that this is a bit of smiling from the birder we can no longer call. Apparently the "wet season" keeps FL birds dispersed in summer, but thankfully we're not chasing ones we've got at home. Our life creatures so far have been very satisfying, though not exactly easy. But I'd like to think that Laura put in a good word for our birding weather - it has only rained when we were not actually birding. It's just so hard to think that we won't be able to go through the trip list together while reviewing pictures.