LEESBURG — A second rare bird species was recently spotted in Lake County at the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area, located northeast of Leesburg off County Road 452.
A Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena) is typically found on the western portion of North America from southern Canada to Mexico; however, during a monthly bird survey on Jan. 28 at Emeralda Marsh a male Lazuli Bunting was spotted.
"It was found by Barb Gay and others while searching and counting the normal birds found at the marsh," said Lake County Park Ranger Gallus Quigley. "The survey is conducted on the fourth Saturday of every month by the St. Johns River Water Management District with help from volunteers and Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society.
"The Lazuli Bunting is a rare but regular visitor to the east coast during fall and winter," he added.
As of this weekend, birders continued to spot the Lazuli Bunting in the marsh. Lake County's other rare visitor this winter season — A Say's Phoebe — has also been regularly spotted in the Astatula area near Ranch Road. A Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya) bird, which is more commonly found on the western portion of North America from Alaska to Mexico, was spotted during a Dec. 21 bird count in the Zellwood-Mount Dora area.
According to local birdwatchers, the Say's Phoebe is typically spotted in Florida about every dozen years. The last time the bird was officially spotted in the Central Florida area was in 1975 near Lake Apopka.
To learn more about bird watching in Lake County, a 20-page brochure is available that includes a birding list, detailed bird descriptions, colorful images and maps to bird-watching locations. The Lake County Bird-Watching Guide is available free by stopping by the Lake County Welcome Center, 20763 U.S. Highway 27, Groveland, calling (800) 430-LAKE or logging on to www.lakecountyfl.com. In addition, Lake County's park rangers schedule regular bird-watching hikes. For more information, call the Lake County Parks & Trails Division at (352) 742-0992.