16 Species of Warbler in One Strangler Fig
by Rafael Galvez
I stopped by Founders Park in Plantation Key today during the early afternoon. It was drizzling nearly the entire time, and bird activity was excellent throughout my entire visit.
I immediately gravitated towards the northern end of the park, which has been excellent for birds during my last visits. A medium-sized Strangler Fig (Ficus aurea) caught my attention because it had several birds on it. Soon I noticed the small fruit hanging all over the tree, and birds gorging on the red ripe ones. One of the first birds I noticed was a Nashville Warbler. Soon, several other species were evident, including many thrushes, orioles and tanagers.
Nashville Warbler is never the most common migrant through South Florida, but a place to look for it during the fall seems to be the Florida Keys. I had visited Founders Park 10 days earlier with Michelle Davis and we had seen a Nashville in that general vicinity. It came to mind that this could be the same bird. I remained under that Strangler Fig for about 45 minutes, and eventually saw 2 simultaneous Nashvilles, which seemed somewhat associated with Tennessee Warblers. However, there were so many birds on that tree that it was difficult to get a clear sense of movements.
Tennessee and Cape May seemed like the most common warbler species, although there were plenty of Northern Parula and Black-throated Blue. Magnolia, Yellow and Northern Waterthrush were represented by a single individual. The other warblers species ranged from few to several.
The calls of Red-eyed Vireos could be heard often; and not surprisingly since the species was everywhere. Wherever I looked while beneath this tree, I caught glimpse of birds with red fruit on their bills: Worm-eating, Black-throated Blue, Prairie, four Baltimore Orioles!
Then the calls of thrushes seemed all about. Soon there were 6 thrushes in the tree, going for the figs. I don’t know how many thrushes I saw in the end, for the birds did not stay still much. However, I got fantastic looks at several Swainson’s, one Veery and one Gray-cheecked.
As I pulled away from the tree to get some perspective, I noticed a Summer Tanager atop, and soon another. Orioles were also fleeting nearby. Up high over the park, a single Mississippi Kite flew by southward. Before I was back at the car, a Merlin flew by in aloof chase of Starlings.
Some of the species seen from beneath the Strangler Fig at Founders Park:
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
The results for the hawkwatch for September 24:
Back at Curry Hammock State Park, before the end of the count day, sometime around the 16:00 hour, 9 Mississippi Kites flew by far near the bay.
Northern Harrier 28
Sharp-shinned Hawk 23
Cooper’s Hawk 9
Broad-winged Hawk 2
American Kestrel 55
Peregrine Falcon 30
Swallow-tailed Kite 2
Mississippi Kite 10