Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Bird(s) of the Week for November 23: Anhinga and Eastern Phoebe

Anhingas are often called "snake birds". These birds are year-round residents of Florida (can even be found south down to Argentina), and they are often seen perched on rocks or branches with their wings outstretched. They do this b/c they lack the oil glands other aquatic birds have and therefore need to dry their feathers. I enjoy watching them swim with their bodies completely submerged in water with their long neck and head sticking out. Sometimes I can see them spear fish with their sharp beaks. They will then break the surface and flip the meal up in the air and capture it before they finally get to eat! Anhingas feed on crayfish, shrimp, amphibians, snakes and even young alligators. They roost in trees along shorelines, and the females will construct their nests out of sticks and line it with grass and leaves. Eggs are incubated for about 30 days by both parents, and the altricial young are fed by both sexes. The males eye will become blue-green during breeding season, and the female can be distinguished by her buff-tan neck.

 Eastern phoebes are flycatchers that winter in Florida and are often seen in open woods and along woodland edges. They also like to perch on fences, utility wires, and treetops. At Panther Island, I often see them catching insects on the fly (their primary food) or feeding on berries. They build their cup-shaped nests in man-made structures now but used to use niches in natural embankments. Nests are made from mud, moss, and plant materials, and it is the female that builds them over a period of 7-10 days. these guys are very common cowbird hosts.

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