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.
Today I am working in an area that was once heavily infested with Peruvian primrose willow. I have heard numerous people say you can't remove it with just herbicide...I beg to differ! Timing and being TENACIOUS are two things essential to eradicate this invasive with just herbicide (no mowing or fire). Now to get rid of the Brazilian pepper trying to take over the battlefield where that hard fought battle was won! Keep in mind we are trying to win the war against invasives and an occasional battle will be lost along the way. But tenacity can will see me through.
So sometimes in my excitement or spraying groove I forget to check and make sure the lid to my herbicide sprayer of the day is secure. No big deal right?! WRONG! You end with herbicide with blue indicator dye in it splashed down your back when you do this! It makes you look like you waged war with the Smurf village and there was lots of life lost...on their end.
This time of year I find myself glancing skyward more regularly and my ears are tuned for a particular sound. Can you guess whose arrival I am awaiting???
Swallow-tailed kites! These beautiful birds are summer migrants that come up from South America. And I am happy to say while I have yet to see one, I did hear two calling out on Panther Island earlier today! Awesome Valentine's Day gift from Mother Nature!
So as I go about my work I am often klutzy, sometimes downright stupid (sorry Jason), and always easily amused. I have decided to start a series as part of my blog called "Swamp Rules", a collection of somewhat silly but entertaining anecdotal rules of things to do and NOT do while working in the field. No need for others to reinvent the wheel...might as well learn from my experiences! I hope you'll enjoy.
Sunset over cypress and marsh at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a RAMSAR designated Wetland of International Importance, is going to celebrate World Wetlands Day with a two day festival this upcoming weekend. Please check out the Corkscrew website for more information!
If the link above doesn't work, simply cut and paste the address below.
The American kestrel (Falco sparverius) is the smallest of North America's falcons. This widespread species uses a wide range of habitats from deserts and grasslands up to alpine meadows. However they do favor areas with short ground vegetation and sparse trees. Typically you see them perched on power lines and utility poles along roadways. In more natural areas, they often are seen atop snags.When perched, they will often pump their tails.
These pretty raptors actually nest in cavities but can't excavate their own. They take over old woodpeckers holes and natural tree cavities as well as rock crevices and man-made structures. They even take to nest boxes. Inside the cavity there aren't any nesting materials. The males are the scouts that find possible nesting sites that eh shows his mate, but it is the female who has the final word. Kestrels nest from mid-March to early June. Clutch sizes range from 4-5 eggs. Incubation lasts 26-32 days and nestling stage ranges from 28-31 days.
These tiny raptors are diurnal hunters that scan for prey such as insects, invertebrates, small rodents, and small birds. A common prey item is a vole. Since birds can see ultraviolet light, trails of urine left by voles are trackable and probably lead them right to their quarry. But these small and graceful birds are also prey for other larger raptors (Northern Goshawks, barn owls, Cooper's hawks, red-tailed hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks). They can also become victims of rat snakes and in the nest...fire ants!
There are two subspecies of Kestrel. A migrant northern subspecies (Falco sparverius sparverius) winters here from September through April. The southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) is a year-round resident throughout Florida and is the subspecies you are seeing during the summer months. The southeastern American kestrel is currently listed as threatened in the state of Florida. The decline in their numbers in recent years is likely due to the loss of appropriate nesting snags. To help combat this, you can put up American kestrel nesting boxes (but if you have bird feeders be wary b/c small birds are also kestrel prey!). For more kestrel nesting box information visit: http://myfwc.org/wildlifehabitats/profiles/birds/raptors-and-vultures/american-kestrel/