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.
The views expressed in user comments do not reflect the views of Audubon. Audubon does not participate in political campaigns, nor do we support or oppose candidates.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Plant of the Week: Simpson's zephyr lily (Zephyranthes simpsonii)

One of the best things about a prescribed fire in a mesic or hydric pine flatwoods is the appearance of zephyrlilies a few weeks post-burn. The lily seen here is, I believe, Simpson's zephyr lily (Zephyranthes simpsonii). It is listed as endangered in Florida and is endemic to peninsular Florida! We have these on Panther Island and other areas of Corkscrew. It seems to be that the limiting factor for its range is competition with other plants (another management reason for removal of invasive, non-native vegetation!). Mowing and other activities along roadsides, etc can reduce competing vegetation to levels were they are able to compete and survive. The main threats to its continued existence pertain to habitat changes such as over-drainage and development.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Critter of the Week January 16: American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)

It seems like every time I post about a new critter I mention how much I love that species...well it is still true for the American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)! This lovely bird is actually in the heron family (Order: Pelicaniformes; Family: Ardeidae) and can be mistaken for another bittern, the least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis). These birds are found in marshes where they hide in the grasses and reeds. Their plumage is cryptic and allows them to blend in well with their surroundings. They forage on insects, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. Solitary animals, they move slowly and somewhat stiffly. They snatch food with their bills and kill the prey with a rapid shake or bite. Because they can be hard to spy, it is often easier to identify them or recognize their presence through their distinctive call.

American bitterns build their nests out of emergent vegetation (cattails, reeds, etc.) in shallow marshes about 3-8 inches above the water in dense thickets of emergent vegetation. The nests themselves are lined with grass and a typical clutch size is 1-5 eggs. Incubation lasts from 24-28 days.