Monday, March 17, 2014

Coloring the Birds of St. John…

It may be St. Patrick ’s Day today, but on my morning walk I didn’t spy anything green.  The little creek that runs down the hill in our neighborhood still has a skim coat of ice on it but I could see movement below the ice.  Here in New England, we are entering what some people call Mud Season and I agree that that’s an apt name for the transition time between winter and spring here when the main colors that greet the eye are the dirty white of the leftover snow and the brown of the ground peeping out from under it.  It’s not my favorite time of the year.  I love color.  Whether it is the blue, whites and greys of winter or the brights of summer, I long for color.  And that dirty brown just doesn't cut it.

So today I am going back down to St. John in the US Virgin Islands to show you a few birds we saw while we were down there.

My favorite bird on St. John is the Bananaquit.  These frenetic little yellow fellows are all over the island and people feed them by leaving out bowls of sugar.  Their love of sugar makes them a bit like a hummingbird, but they can’t hover and must be perched to eat.  They are pretty tame and don’t mind if you get somewhat close to them to take their photo.  Here is a couple I took:

That little, photo-bombing dude in the right-hand corner looks like he's sticking his tongue out at his brother.
They don't mind sharing.
Here’s a video that gives a whole new meaning to the term the birds and the bees.  I took this at one of our favorite places to eat in Coral Bay, The Tourist Trap.  Larry, the owner, dumps a half a pound of sugar in this bowl at a time.  Can you say sugar high?


Our friend Bob was charged with feeding these birds the first year we stayed at the villa Reef Madness and it seems like around the same time in the afternoon, the little ones would begin perching in the trees around the feeder waiting for Bob to get that sugar out.  One afternoon, after the initial influx of birds died down, I looked over at the feeder and saw an unusual tail sticking out.  A lizard invited himself to the feast.  Apparently, lizards can get hooked on sugar too.  He looked a little dazed when he finally poked his head out of the feeder.




Another bird we see a lot there is the Pearly-eyed Thrasher.  This bird is only found on some islands in the Caribbean and seems pretty common on St. John.  One day while we were sitting on the beach, I looked behind my chair and saw a couple of them feasting away on a piece of fruit sitting on the ground.  They were more interested in the fruit than they were in me so I managed to get some decent shots of them.  I wasn’t able to determine exactly why they are different colors.  The lighter one may be a juvenile.



One afternoon after we were out of the pool, I managed to catch this Thrasher admiring himself in the reflections of the pool.  The Wiki on the Pearly-eyed Thrasher calls him "an aggressive, opportunistic omnivore.”  Apparently, he’s a little narcissistic as well.  I know some people like that.


One thing we find interesting down there are the lack of seagulls.  I am not sure why they don’t frequent the area, but there are pelicans, whose beaks can hold more than their bellies can.  Yes, I think of this little limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt every time I see one of those birds:


A funny old bird is a pelican.
His beak can hold more than his bellican.
Food for a week
He can hold in his beak,
But I don't know how the hellican.



This isn’t a bird, but I think it is always interesting to see someone walking their pig down the beach.  I mean, I can’t remember the last time I saw that before we were on St. John.


16 comments:

Gail Dixon said...

Spectacular shots of the birds! Especially that bananaquit! Never even heard of that species, but wow. So beautiful!!

Sandra said...

awesome photos, all of these love love the thrasher looking at himself and the pig is sooo sweet. magnificent colors

Lynn said...

wonderful shots and I do love the reflection of the Thrasher, fantastic photo, and me thinks that that is a lot of sugar for anyone!!

TexWisGirl said...

the bird fiesta is amazing! laughed at the lizard joining in. the thrasher is really neat looking!

Pamela Gordon said...

These are interesting birds and their habitats. Imagine being addicted to sugar! Hehehe. And imagine walking your huge pet pig on the beach! I hope you find some green soon as that means the warmer air will be flowing north to us too.

kat from ky. said...

Love the colorful birds too! Pelicans crack me up. My sister's husband was at the end of a pier in Fl. and one came right down and knocked him in the water. (pre cell phone so no picture. darn)

Amazing wonders in my life said...

Wow... Lovely photographs.. Loved the bird shot

Willow said...

Great shots.
Too funny to see the lizard eating with the birds and a pig on the beach ~ lol

Kerri Farley said...

OK - I guess this is a place I must visit! I am in LOVE with that Bananaquit!! And Pelicans are a FAVE too!!

Beth @ E. Lizard Breath Speaks said...

ok, that pig (i almost said pug) stole the show. that is the cutest pig ever!! he/she is huge though. ( :

i love the coloring of those birdies, so pretty. what a neat lizard. so neat that you got him/she in the shot. i love that you recycle your sour cream containers. so creative.

Brian King said...

Wow! Look at that sour puss bill and the brilliant yellow! Beautiful birds! The lizard made me laugh! He got caught!

Betty Manousos said...

what a fantastic series of photos, barbara!

happy st. patrick's day! :))

Debbie said...

love the birds....and the pig walking, well, that's just odd ;)

Barb said...

Thank you for these exotic photos - I'm still buried in snow. Loved the birds and bees video! And - well, who would walk a pig that large?

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

I think I took a photo of a pig-walker in Sturgis one year. :)

Love the thrasher admiring himself.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

We also have mud season here, Barbara, but ours is not so much from snow as we receive oitiful little compared to other states...but lots of rain is our nemesis. Then, in the summer when we need the rain it doesn't come. Walking a pig does seem unusual, but i have heard they can make great oets.