President’s Corner – June 2024 – Big Year Update

We are now about halfway through our birding contest – Viera’s Big Year. I thought it would be interesting to see what birds are currently in the lead for most sightings. I was a little surprised by the results as I thought for sure I would see the Sandhill Crane high up on the list for sightings, but the data doesn’t lie. The caveat to these results is that the same bird could be seen by multiple contestants. For instance, if two contestants are out and about birdwatching and see the same bird, they can both report it. So, while there may be some duplication, these birds are receiving the most sightings from all contestants participating.

At the #1 spot is the Boat Tailed Grackle with 83 sightings. There is no wonder that this bird tops the list as Brevard County has the ideal environment for the Grackle. They like the East Coast and hang out in parks and around water. They have learned to live with humans and tend to scrounge for discarded food items. Learn more about the Boat Tailed Grackle here:

#2 on our list with 79 sightings is the Common Grackle, a close relative of the #1 bird on our list. Common Grackles also scrounge for food and are very common to backyard bird feeders. A very interesting fact about Grackles is that they perform something called “anting” where they allow ants to crawl on their wings and bodies because the ants secrete formic acid which helps rid the birds of parasites.

It should be no surprise that the White Ibis is #3 on our list with 78 sightings. It is common to see these birds dancing across your lawn or our parks foraging for bugs and other food sources. They also love water edges, muddy areas, and wetlands. Interesting fact – The mascot of the University of Miami is a White Ibis called Sebastion the Ibis.

Next on our list is the Great Blue Heron coming in at #4 on our list with 71 sightings . Another bird who will find around or near water across much of the United States. The Great Blue Heron are majestic birds with keen hunting skills with excellent “night vision” and can quickly strike at prey due to their specially shaped neck. Interestingly, they are very light birds weighing in at only 5 to 6 pounds due to their hollow bones.

Tied for our #5 spot are the Anhinga and the Black Vulture, both with 70 sightings each. The Anhinga is a swimming bird who swims through shallow waters with its head sticking out. They also “hang themselves out to dry” and are easily identifiable by this behavior. They are also nicknamed the “water turkey” or “snake bird”. The Black Vulture, surprisingly, does not have a great sense of smell . But, they smell and find their food by following Turkey Vultures to carcasses. They are also fiercely loyal to family and share food with relatives and young vultures. Black Vultures also do not have a voice box so the only sounds they can make are hisses and grunts.

I am so excited about our inaugural Viera’s Big Year and I, personally, am learning so much about our local birds that I never knew before!

If this is the first time you are hearing about our contest or if you have just not started yet, that’s OK. The contest continues through December 31st and is a great way to get out into the open and really take notice of the birds and nature around you. I really hope more people take advantage of this opportunity. And don’t forget, there is a $1,000 prize at the end of the contest for the person who sees the most species of birds! Here is more information on the contest:

So, until next time, get out there and bird! And remember…“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” – Maya Angelou

Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.