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Red-Shouldered Hawks, Napping Gators and Other Odds and Ends
red shouldered hawk
One of a pair of red-shouldered hawks spotted this week at Green Cay.

BOYNTON BEACH — One of the fun things about walking the boardwalk at Green Cay Nature Center is discovering something cool, then sharing it with others who come along.

But sometimes you get your own private show. As we were leaving Green Cay this one recent afternoon, we had the luxury of a few minutes to kill, so decided to drive along the back row of the parking lot even though it's a bit out of the way.

Our little excursion paid off when a pair of red-shouldered hawks, a mother and a juvenile, we're guessing, flew into the trees in front of us. The thing about hawks is they don't flitter about; they'll land on a spot and generally stay there for a while, making them the perfect avian photographic models.

These two were no exceptions. They gave us plenty of time to adjust our camera for the lighting conditions (bright background, dark foreground) and walk around to find the best available angles and fire off enough frames to get some decent photos. After about five minutes, they flew off. The show was over and we left.

red shouldered juvenile
The juvenile red-shouldered hawk. Note the chest pattern compared to the mature hawk above.

Blue jays are among our favorites because of their sharp colors and features. We came across this guy as we walked through the cypress woods near Green Cay's northwest corner. The late afternoon sun flooded through the nearly naked cypress trees and highlighted the bird perfectly against the dark forest floor, making for a perfect shot.

blue jay

We photographed this blue jay for no other reason than its sheer beauty.




Yes, this white bird we photographed is a little blue heron. It won't turn fully blue unitl it's a year old — the blue beak and the legs are the giveaway that this is a blue and not an egret.

blue heron
A juvenile little blue heron hunts for a snack.

The photo of the apparently napping alligator at the bottom of the page is nothing out of the ordinary, but it brings up a couple of points about reptiles in general and gators in particular. In winter, it's all about conserving energy; they are cold-blooded, after all. You'll see them sunning themselves on cool, sunny days, trying to soak up as much heat as they can. On cold days, you might not see them at all as they hang out in the water or in burrows trying to stay warm.

Those ridges on the back are essentially thermal panels, helping to heat and cool the animal. This giant, about 12 or 13 feet long, was napping on the site of an old gator's nest.

alligator napping
An apparently napping gator.


Immediately below are a couple photos taken at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. We've spent some time there this winter and have come to appreciate its beauty and serenity. More on Loxahatchee next time.

An airplant in bloom in the cypress forest.
tropical checkered skipper
Tropical checkered-skipper butterfly along the Marsh Trail


Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.