Monthly Archives: May 2016

White Pelicans

White Pelicans

White Pelicans – click on picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

White pelicans spend part of the year in Florida and then migrate back to the interior part of the continent during the spring and summer. The picture shown above is of White Pelicans congregating in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. Ding Darling gets a lot of migrating birds during winter season and it’s a popular place for bird watchers.

White pelicans are different than Brown Pelicans by the way they hunt and search for food. They usually gather and create a circle among themselves and then herd small fish in shallow waters where they can then dip their orange bills into the water and snatch their catch. Brown Pelicans soar over the waters looking for fish and then dive and splash into the water, first stunning their prey and then grabbing them with their long bills and swallowing them whole.

White Pelicans are among the largest birds in North America and have long broad wings that are black tipped at the end. They are an interesting sight at the Ding Darling Refuge among all the other birds which include White Egrets, Herons of all colors, and White Ibis to name a few. White Pelicans breed on islands in fresh water areas in northern states. They then spend their lives  along fresh waters lakes and estuaries in northern states and Canada or coastlines and bays in southern salt water areas like Florida and states along the Gulf of Mexico. I like to learn more about the birds of North America by going to the All About Birds Website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanibel Island Bridge

The Sanibel Island Bridge was built and opened in 1963 which allowed traffic to freely move between the mainland of Ft. Myers and Lee County to Sanibel Island. Access to Sanibel Island use to be available only by ferry boat. Commercial traffic and businesses sprouted up on the island after the bridge was built but residents have saved the quaint and  small island feel of Sanibel by not allowing high rise Condo’s or fast food restaurants.

The Sanibel Island bridge is actually 3 bridges which reach across two man made islands which together make up the Sanibel Island Causeway. The causeway is 3 miles long and consists of several areas where people spend the day to fish, play water sports, picnic or spend time with family and friends. Since the new bridge was repaired and re-opened in 2007 which replaced the old draw bridge, bicyclists can now use a bicycle lane to trek across the causeway and 3 bridges. Caution should be taken however as there is no barrier between cars and bicycles other than a white line.

The main span of the new bridge is 17 ft 6 inches high and allows yachts and most kinds of boats to travel under who are making their way up the Caloosahatchee River or out to the San Carlos Bay or Gulf of Mexico. It’s fun to watch the boat traffic pass under and by the bridge. There are also several kinds of birds especially Pelicans who use the wind drafts along the bridge to glide  and look for fish to eat.

On windy days there are many wind surfers who use the wide open Pine Island Sound to race across the water. There are also kayakers, paddle boarders and people using jet ski’s who travel across the bridge and use the causeway islands to launch their craft. The toll to pass over the bridge is still a hefty $6 per car.

Click on any picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cane Toads harmful to animals and SW Florida

Cane Toad

Cane Toad – click on picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

Cane Toads are among the invasive and non-native species of animals that are destroying the native species in Florida. Cane Toads were imported here believe it or not to control the bug problem in the Sugar Cane fields in South Florida over 60 years ago. Unfortunately the toads multiplied in numbers and spread to all parts of South Florida including our neighborhoods in Ft. Myers.

I took a picture of the Cane Toad in the picture above at the Calusa Nature Center in Ft. Myers which has impressive displays and many exhibits of the native and non-native animals living in South Florida. This toad is mostly brown in color, large in size with darks spots and warty bumps on its skin. The Cane toad produces a toxic milky substance on its back and when ingested by dogs or other pets who night bite into them, poisons them and often kills them. The Fort Myers Weekly newspaper published an article titled “Killer Toads” on May11-17 2016 in which residents of the town patrol their neighborhoods at night and try to catch and rid themselves of this harmful amphibian.

The Cane Toads’ diet consists of insects, frogs, small snakes, lizards, mice and just about anything they can fit into their mouths. They are tough to kill and some people catch them by pinning them down with bricks, crushing them and then disposing of them with animal waste scoopers.

I found some helpful information about Cane Toad on the Univ. of Florida Dept. of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation website. It has a good description of the Cane Toad but may be outdated because of the information it supplies about it’s spread throughout S. Florida which now consists of Lee County and other nearby arras.

 

 

 

 

 

Song Birds

Click on any Picture to enlarge

Song Birds are beautiful and colorful creatures in Florida and they attract people from all over the world who come to watch, listen and photograph them. There are over 4,000 species of Song Birds throughout the world and what distinguishes them from other birds is their well developed vocal organs which gives them the ability to produce long and elaborate sounds and songs. The pictures of the birds shown above, the Northern Cardinal, Mockingbird and Blue Jay are fun to listen to and look at as well. Some of the other common Song Birds I have encountered in Florida include the Yellow Warbler, Yellow Throated Vireo, Carolina Wren, Sparrows, and Red Bellied Woodpecker.

The All About Birds website created by the Cornell Univ. School of Ornithology produced a great website to teach birders how to identify the songs and physical features of Song Birds. I visit the All About Birds website often to learn more about the birds I see in my neighborhood and nearby preserves that I visit.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is also helpful in teaching anyone about the wildlife in Florida. They created the popular Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail website which lists places all over the state to see and photograph birds.

Song Birds sing and make their calls to attract mates and to warn other birds when intruders enter their territory. Mockingbirds are well known to protect their nests. trees and territory from other birds and predators by flying furiously through the air, scaring off unwanted visitors and giving off a loud series of screeches and sounds. They band together to form a cohesive group of birds in their territory and form a formidable defense against intruders.