Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kite Tales - April 2017 issue


ISSUE NUMBER 8 • APRIL 2017

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Kite Tales

the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail's monthly newsletter

eagle
Bald Eagle by Jack Rogers

Bald Eagles in Florida

Florida has one of the densest concentrations of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states, with an estimated 1,500 nesting pairs. Concentrations of nesting territories are clustered around several significant lake, river, and coastal systems throughout the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has monitored the population of nesting bald eagles in Florida for over 40 years. Bald eagles have some biological characteristics unique to Florida. Nearly all bald eagle nests in Florida are built within 1.8 miles of water. Most clutches of eggs in Florida are laid between December and early January. Incubation lasts about 35 days. Nestlings in Florida fledge, or become able to fly from the nest, at around 11 weeks of age and remain with their parents near the nest for an additional 4-11 weeks. Most of Florida's breeding bald eagles, especially those nesting in the extreme southern peninsula, remain in the state year-round, but most subadults, or birds not quite fully mature, and non-breeding adults migrate out of Florida. Eagles migrate northward between April and August and return southward from late July through late December.  Juveniles migrate northward later than older subadults. Most juveniles disperse at about 128 days of age and spend their first summer as far north as Newfoundland, with peak numbers summering around Chesapeake Bay and the coastal plain of North Carolina. Florida's bald eagles use three migration flyways - the Atlantic coast, Appalachian Mountains, and the Mississippi River valley - with equal frequency, and they use stopover sites for resting or foraging. Bald eagles are opportunistic foragers, feeding or scavenging on a wide variety of prey. Primary prey of eagles in Florida includes various fish and waterfowl species.  Prey from one study in north-central Florida was composed of 78% fish (mostly catfish, especially brown bullhead), 17% birds (mainly American coot), 3% mammals, and 1% amphibians and reptiles combined. 
horseshoe crabs
horseshoe crabs by Connie Mier FWRI

Citizen Science

Help Document Horseshoe Crab Nesting Beaches
Horseshoe crabs can be found in the United States from Maine to Florida. Adult horseshoe crabs are usually found offshore, but they mate on sandy beaches where the females deposit eggs.
Horseshoe crabs are declining in number throughout their range due to a variety of factors, including overharvesting for the bait industry and loss of reproductive habitat. Seawalls and other types of shoreline development can disrupt the horseshoe crab's reproductive activities.
Shorebirds rely on horseshoe crab eggs as a primary food source during their long migrations. The decrease in horseshoe crab abundance has contributed to notable declines in the abundance of many shorebird species. As a result, many states have put restrictions on horseshoe crab harvesting and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission developed a Horseshoe Crab Fishery Management Plan. In order to gain a better understanding of horseshoe crab biology and mating activities, this management plan requires all Atlantic coastal states to identify horseshoe crab nesting beaches.
The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute is asking the public to report observations of horseshoe crab mating activities in order to help biologists identify nesting beaches around the state.
blue jay
Blue Jay visiting a bird bath by Andy Wraithmell

National Garden Month

Every April communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate gardening during National Garden Month. Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us: attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows. Join the celebration and help to make America a greener, healthier, more livable place!
Attracting wildlife to our yards by planning and planting for their needs is simple and satisfying. If we supply adequate food, water and shelter, we can increase the number and variety of species that visit our properties, improving our chances of observing them more closely while providing the habitat they need to survive.
First printed in the 1980s and now revised and updated, the 40-page “Planting a Refuge for Wildlife” booklet is designed to help a new generation of landowners attract, enjoy and conserve wildlife. The booklet will help you
  • entice a variety of animals to your property
  • evaluate your current landscape and create a habitat plan
  • select the appropriate native plants;
  • design a bird, butterfly or pollinator garden;
  • add nest boxes, feeding stations and water features.
checklist

Checklists

Checklist of Florida’s birds AND butterflies
Both are now available online and in print. Visit our website for more details.
forest
picture by David Printiss (TNC)

Volunteers Needed!

April 15 - June 20, 2017

Volunteers are needed to conduct avian monitoring activities on Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve and Torreya State Park in the Florida panhandle. The volunteers will be assisting an FWC biologist hired to perform the post-restoration monitoring on selected sites in support of the Multistate Sandhills Ecological Restoration Project Phase 3. This project is a collaborative wildlife habitat restoration effort between the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina, which is supported by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program and funding from various conservation partners.  Volunteers will need to be able to walk through sandhill habitat and navigate using GPS to find monitoring points, identify bird species by call as per Hamel et al. (1996) (each point count will survey an area encircled by a 250m diameter around the point), and work independently at times.
Contact for biologist conducting surveys: Annie Schmidt, monotropa@aol.com813-334-7379
Contact for FWC supervisor of project: Heather.Hitt@myfwc.com772-469-4267

IN THIS ISSUE 


  • Bald Eagles
  • Horseshoe crabs
  • National Gardening Month
  • Checklists

The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) is a network of 510 sites spread throughout the state. The Trail is a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, supported in part by the Florida Department of Transportation and the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. The Trail is possible thanks to dozens of federal, state, and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private landowners. Continued, broad-based support and grassroots community investment will continue to make the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail a success for Florida and for our feathered friends. 


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