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Florida Animals

American White Ibis

The American White Ibis is a very common bird. You may have seen a group of them passing through your yard using their beak to probe for insects. The males tend to be larger with longer beaks. They breed along the Gulf Coast and when not breeding they drift further inland and to the Caribbean. These birds are monogamous and both parents help to take care of the young. Aside from garbage the larges threat to these birds is methylmercury that leaks into the environment. This alters the hormones in the birds and interferes with their reproduction and breeding. Methylmercury concentrations are increased when waste and fossil fuels are burned. Resevoir flooding can also cause in increase. This chemical is a neurotoxic and also inhibits part of the endocrine system. It prevents males from producing sex hormones that would lead to courtship behaviors. Courtship behaviors are very important in most birds. Without these behaviors the females will not find an interest in the males and reproduction will not occur. It can also lead to females abandoning their nests and reduced foraging.

Other threats include harvesting of their food source such as crayfish, hunting, degradation of habitat, and other chemical uses. If you see these birds passing through, know that they will help your yard by removing pest insects. If you see smaller brown ibis, those are juveniles. Have you seen Ibis around your house?

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Red-Headed Woodpecker

These fascinating little birds were observed playing a game of hide and seek in an area around Defuniak Springs, Florida. They are sexually dimorphic, which means males and females have different appearances. The female is a plain brown and grey color while the male is a vibrant black, white, and red. They feed on a variety of insects and tree nuts and will often hide their snacks for later. I’m sure some humans can relate. They are monogamous and will stay together for years. Both will take part in creating the nest. Although most of the handwork is done by the male. They build nests in dead trees and prefer open areas including recently burned sites. Sadly, these birds have experienced over a 70% decline in population since the 1960’s. With tree removal becoming a more common practice in both urban areas and forest management these birds are left with few places to raise their young. If you have a dead tree in your yard that isn’t causing a safety problem you may consider leaving it be and perhaps you will get some lovely new neighbors who will entertain you for hours.

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Florida Softshell turtle

Hurricane Irma surely displaced many animals including this baby Florida Softshell turtle (Apalone ferox). These turtles use their long worm-like nose to lure prey close enough to catch them. They have flat shells that are easily concealed in mud. This little guy was found uninjured near a warehouse but was relocated to a safe area nearby. Did you encounter any displaced wildlife after the Hurricane?

#softshellturtle #florida #irma #turtle

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Palm Warbler

Florida has many migratory birds. This Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum) is one of them. The Palm Warbler is a fast little bird and getting a picture can be quite a challenge. Luckily, this beauty allowed us to snap a shot before darting off into the Everglades National Park last winter.

Palm Warblers breed throughout much of the boreal forests of Canada during the summer and migrate to the Southeastern U.S., Caribbean, and central America for the winter. These songbirds are quite talented and their songs can be heard throughout the day.

This bird can be seen constantly wagging it’s tail.They are mostly ground feeders and will feed off berries, seeds, and insects including aphids, mosquitoes, beetles, grasshoppers, and spiders. Planting native plants in your yard helps provide these birds with lots of healthy food during their migration.

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Zebra Longwing Butterfly

The Zebra Longwing Butterfly has been the Florida state butterfly since 1996. Starting out as tiny yellow eggs they grow into caterpillars who are a white to pale yellow and have black spines. Like all butterflies they enter another stage of metamorphosis by developing a chrysalis. The color of their chrysalis can change depending on the surface it is attached to. This is an evolutionary mechanism they acquired a long time ago. Once the butterfly reaches adulthood it becomes a beautiful pollinator like the one shown feeding on a shepherd’s needle. What’s your favorite butterfly? Share with us in the comments below.

#zebralongwing #ImagineOurFlorida#Floridanativewildlife

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Purple Bankclimber

The Purple Bankclimber is a fresh water mussel reaching a length up to 5.5 inches.

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