Automatic Wildlife Camera: Lots of Surprises

Blue Jays Have Beautiful Feathers

Blue Jays Have Beautiful Feathers

Bobwhite Quail with Feathers Fluffed Up

Bobwhite Quail with Feathers Fluffed Up

Bunny Portrait

Bunny Portrait

Blue and Pink Turkey Head

Blue and Pink Turkey Head

Red Bellied Woodpecker Drinking Nectar from White Bird of Paradise Flowers

Red Bellied Woodpecker Drinking Nectar from White Bird of Paradise Flowers

Stunning Boat-Tailed Grackle Feathers

Stunning Boat-Tailed Grackle Feathers

Dove and Red Flowers

Dove and Red Flowers

Wing Blur of Dove Landing

Wing Blur of Dove Landing

Mama Squirrel Eating a Peanut

Mama Squirrel Eating a Peanut

Baby Cardinal with Adult Feathers Growing In

Baby Cardinal with Adult Feathers Growing In

Raccoon Inspecting Peanut

Raccoon Inspecting Peanut

Happy Raccoon Eating Seeds and Nuts

Happy Raccoon Eating Seeds and Nuts

Raccoon Saying Grace

Raccoon Saying Grace

Raccoon Talking

Raccoon Talking

Raccoon Beside Automatic Wildlife Camera Setup

Raccoon Beside Automatic Wildlife Camera Setup

The best thing about using an automatic wildlife camera is being surprised by what you see – it might be new behaviors, interesting perspectives, or even animals you didn’t know lived in your yard. What fun!

Automatic Wildlife Camera: Animal Friends

Bunny and Dove

Bunny and Dove

Squirrel and Cotton Rat

Squirrel and Cotton Rat

Box Turtle and Eastern Towhee

Box Turtle and Eastern Towhee

Bunny and Cotton Rat

Bunny and Cotton Rat

Bunny and Squirrel

Bunny and Squirrel

Bobwhite Quail, Bunny, and Cotton Rat Eating Together

Bobwhite Quail, Bunny, and Cotton Rat Eating Together

Our automatic wildlife camera caught some unlikely animals eating together in our backyard in Florida.  Each one has an important role in nature.  These pictures make me smile.  A good link about Florida wildlife is at:  http://www.wildflorida.com/index.php

 

Florida: Colorful Land Crabs

Overview of Colorful Land Crab

Overview of Colorful Land Crab

Side View Showing Blue Land Crab’s Giant Claw

Side View Showing Blue Land Crab’s Giant Claw

Female Land Crab Carrying Eggs

Female Land Crab Carrying Eggs

Five Land Crabs Walking

Five Land Crabs Walking

Group of Land Crabs Crossing Sandy Road

Group of Land Crabs Crossing Sandy Road

Side View of Colorful Land Crab

Side View of Colorful Land Crab

Very Colorful Land Crab

Very Colorful Land Crab

Blue Land Crab under Stump

Blue Land Crab under Stump

White Land Crab (probably female)

White Land Crab (probably female)

Two-Inch Long Juvenile Land Crab (claw almost as big as body)

Two-Inch Long Juvenile Land Crab (claw almost as big as body)

Very Young Land Crab (too small to pinch)

Very Young Land Crab (too small to pinch)

Summer and early Fall are the best time to see colorful land crabs in Florida. They live along the Atlantic coast from Central to Southern Florida, and are also found along the Gulf coast. We usually see them around the time of the full moon in August and September in the Sebastian/Vero Beach area. Giant blue land crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi) like to live in wet sandy burrows, and need to be within 5 miles of the ocean to spawn. Only one in a million eggs survives to adulthood. The distinctive brown “fuzz” around the mouth parts of land crabs is actually a net-like pattern of hairs. It works in conjunction with the internal gills to help them “breathe” while on land. Both male and female adult land crabs have one claw bigger than the other.  The crabs can grow up to 6 inches across, and come in a variety of colors including blue, purple, red, orange, brown, and white.  More info about the life history of these fascinating crabs is at: http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/blue-crabs/life-cycle/

Florida: Manatee Love

Manatee Swimming Offshore Sebastian Beach

Manatee Swimming Offshore Sebastian Beach

Manatee Mating Herd in Shallow Water

Manatee Mating Herd in Shallow Water

Mating Manatees (3 males and 1 female)

Mating Manatees (3 males and 1 female)

Manatee Named "Barney"

Manatee Named “Barney”

Sebastian Inlet Bridge

Sebastian Inlet Bridge

In Florida, manatee mating activity peaks in spring and early summer. When wildlife societies receive calls about beached manatees this time of year, they explain that it is natural behavior and manatee love is in the air. A female manatee will usually be pursued by several males into shallow water, and that forms a mating herd.  Florida’s West Indian manatee is an endangered species, so it is a real privilege to witness such an event. Best of all, a baby manatee will arrive a year later! At Sebastian Inlet State Park today, we saw 8 manatees off the pier in the ocean, and a mating herd of 4 on the lagoon side.  A manatee named “Barney” swam beside the jetty (named by surfers for the barnacles on his skin). 

Springtime Around Our Florida Yard

Foggy Sunrise

Foggy Sunrise

Eastern Screech Owl in Nest Box

Eastern Screech Owl in Nest Box

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Brown Anole

Brown Anole

Armadillo

Armadillo

Cuban Tree Frog

Cuban Tree Frog

Squirrel on Porch Screen

Squirrel on Porch Screen

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Pink Hibiscus

Pink Hibiscus

There is plenty of activity in our Florida yard in spring.  We just never know what we’ll see next!  Hope the wildlife and plants are doing well in your yard, too.

 

Purple Martin Babies are Hatching!

Purple Martins Resting Above Nesting Gourd Rack

Purple Martins Resting Above Nesting Gourd Rack

Five Purple Martin Eggs in Leaf-Lined Nest

Five Purple Martin Eggs in Leaf-Lined Nest

Newly Hatched Purple Martin Babies

Newly Hatched Purple Martin Babies

Purple Martin Baby's Face (eyes still closed)

Purple Martin Baby’s Face (eyes still closed)

Purple Martin Baby - Side View

Purple Martin Baby – Side View

Purple Martin Babies Sleep Huddled Together for Warmth

Purple Martin Babies Sleep Huddled Together for Warmth

Our first purple martin babies of spring are hatching!  We currently have 6 nests with a total of 20 babies and 9 eggs, and more on the way.  Our martins returned to Florida for nesting season on January 28. These large swallows spend half the year in North America, and the other half in Brazil.   East of the Rockies, they are the only bird species dependent on people to provide nesting sites.  As far back as the 1700s, Native Americans put up natural nesting gourds for the martins to use (http://www.purplemartin.org/update/Indigenous.html).  The partnership was of mutual benefit, so it has continued over generations.  Now the birds prefer to nest in backyards in human-supplied housing.  They don’t mind nest checks by purple martin “landlords”, who keep a close eye on the birds for problems.  Just about everyone who has hosted purple martins misses them when they migrate back to Brazil – they are such cheerful birds to have around.   If you might like to host martins yourself, more info is at:  http://www.purplemartin.org/  Other posts about our purple martins are at:  http://naturetime.wordpress.com/?s=martins 

 

Lionfish in Florida

Lionfish in Aquarium

Lionfish in Aquarium

Lionfish are now seen frequently in Florida waters. These beautiful fish are native to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. DNA evidence suggests that all lionfish here can be traced back to 6-8 female lionfish that were released into the Atlantic Ocean. The first reported lionfish in Florida waters was caught by a fisherman offshore Dania in October 1985. The next report was of 6 red lionfish seen swimming in Biscayne Bay shortly after Hurricane Andrew washed an aquarium off a seawall there in 1992. Since each female lionfish can lay up to 2 million eggs per year, their numbers can grow quickly! Fishermen are being encouraged to catch them, since they are non-native and unbalance the natural ecosystem. Many restaurant owners have now added lionfish to their menus (the meat is firm and white and tastes like grouper). If you catch a lionfish, don’t touch the spines – they are venomous and will sting you.

UPDATE July 2014:  It was recently reported that lionfish can survive in low salinity water and might impact freshwater ecosystems in Florida.