210. Birds of Tuscawilla

Tuscawilla Park has numerous species of birds found near the water.  One of our year round residents is the comical White Ibis  (“EYE-biss”).   Adults are a mostly white, with salmon-pink face, legs, and curved beak. Turquoise blue eyes are an outstanding feature.   The brown individual, is still an Ibis.  It’s just a teenager, waiting to get its white adult plumage.  Those gangly legs and absurd beaks are perfect for poking around in the mud for worms, small frogs, or other tasty morsels.
  
A loyal winter bird is the Hooded Merganser (“Mer-GAN-Zer”), considerably smaller than a mallard.  The male is identified by the saucy little black and white “hair-do” off the back of his head. This crest is raised if he is alarmed, or wants to show off for a lady merganser.  The females have a dull rusty brown head.  Mergansers dive quickly, chasing after small fish.   Spot one when it dives.  Try to guess where it will pop up again! 

Fishing birds in the trees!  You may spot two kinds of birds sitting in a sunny patch with their wings spread to dry.  Both can swim great distances underwater in pursuit of fish.  

 A Double-crested Cormorant  (“CORE-more-unt”) will be solid black, with a long neck, and an orange patch of skin at the chin.  The beak has a sharp hook at the end.   

The other is an Anhinga .  It is a bit larger, with a very long, snaky neck, and a long, straight, spear-like bill.  Adult males have silver-white shoulders.  Females have brown necks.  

Anhingas have the ability to swim with just their long neck sticking up out of the water, leading people to believe it’s a snake.  But it’s not.  Just an anhinga spying out fish!