Help our nesting coastal waterbirds by keeping your distance!
This time of year beachgoers, fishermen and boaters are enjoying our coastal areas in northeast Florida. It’s also the time of year when our shorebirds are nesting. Some shallow beach nests and eggs are well-camouflaged. Even small chicks can be easily overlooked and stepped on. We have a decreasing population of several species so awareness can be critical to their reproduction success. Keep your distance. Do not allow your children to run and cause the birds to take flight. Eggs and chicks become vulnerable to our hot sun and predators when a parent is forced to leave their nest from disturbance.
Northeast Florida has several new critical wildlife areas that may not be marked off yet. Please be aware to not disturb the birds if vising these areas. There are four CWAs posted for waterbird nesting: Fort George in Duval County, Matanzas Inlet in St. Johns County, Nassau Sound Islands in Nassau and Duval counties, and Amelia Island in Nassau County.
For photos and more tips of making this a great nesting season, go to https://flic.kr/s/aHsjyK5nad
Busy Beavers at Crosby Sanctuary in Orange Park
You may be surprised to learn that there are beavers in northeast Florida! North American beavers have taken up residence at Duval Audubon Society’s Crosby Sanctuary in Orange Park, and this time of year they are actively building dams.
The southernmost portion of the Crosby property is a swamp that ultimately drains into the Ortega River. Access to the sanctuary is provided by an earthen dike access road that bisects the swamp, and some years ago, two large trenches were dug through the access road to permit drainage between the two sides of the swamp. The beavers are damming up those trenches, creating a major backup of water flow from the west side of the swamp. The photo on the right shows a large pool created by beaver dams all along the line of trees with just a tiny trickle of water flow on the right.
Volunteer work crews busted all of those dams back in February and within days the beavers had built up the dams again. The real risk is the potential of flooding in the neighborhoods that adjoin the property, especially if there is a major rainfall event, so sanctuary manager Pete Johnson did some research and came up with a way that we hope will leave the dams largely intact but still permit water flow between the two sides. At the March 25th Crosby Sanctuary work day, the crew installed pipes underneath the dams and rebuilt the dams over them. We are optimistic that the water flowing through the pipes under the dam will provide enough drainage through the swamp to prevent flooding, but if this doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board, because our goal is to find a way to peacefully coexist with these fascinating creatures.
Access to Crosby Sanctuary is currently by appointment only, but our ultimate goal is to open this beautiful place to the public.
Local Member Wins Macaulay Library Direct Media Challenge
Congratulations to our member, Marie Chappell, for winning the Macaulay Library Direct Media Challenge.
This challenge began March of last year through the Young Birders Network portal. The challenge was based on submitting qualifying ebird checklists through the portal. If you've seen any of Marie's ebird lists, they are often chock full of information including photographs for documentation.
Marie is an avid birder and is also a member of our Northeast Florida Young Birder's Club.
For the full article on ebird, click here.
The Great Backyard Bird Count results - the best ever!
This year proved to be the biggest count in the GBBC’s 20-year history! Final results reveal 2017 had the highest number of checklists submitted as well as the highest number of species reported. Worldwide, a total of 5940 species were reported. Closer to home, Florida came in 4th in the U.S. for the highest number of checklists submitted and 3rd with the highest number of species (309) reported.
The three counties that we serve had active participation as well. Duval participants submitted 252 checklists with a tally of 152 species. Nassau county reported 91 species and Clay reported 79 species. Thank you to all who participated in this citizen-science project!
The Great Backyard Bird Count 2017
Nineteen years and still growing! The Great Backyard Bird Count was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. It was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. It has now become a global event.
You may ask why is this important and what is the data collected used for? Scientists have several tools to determine what is happening to bird populations. The data we collect over the years is one of those tools. It shows how a species’ range expands or shrinks over time. A decline in populations can signal that something has changed with their habitat and habitat that we all rely on. It’s important that we pay attention to these changes since they are closely tied to our environmental health.
The count begins on February 17th through the 20th. You can count anywhere, not just your backyard. Count the birds you see for a least 15 minutes. Then enter your totals online. If you haven’t participated before, you’ll need to create an free online account. For detailed information, go to birdcount.org. Have fun and know that you are participating in a valuable citizen-science project.
If you want to join an organized field trip, come to Cedar Point Preserve on the 19th.
Florida is growing in leaps and bounds, more than one million more people now than in 2010! It’s hard to miss all the new development. For us and the birds and wildlife, it is our responsibility to ensure that new development happens in the most environmentally safe way possible. Duval Audubon Society will try to keep you informed of related current issues and how you can make your voice heard.
While you may get alerts from organizations asking you to sign petitions, calling or emailing your representative is much more effective. A call is the best and only takes a minute. You only need to identify yourself and indicate if you support or don’t support the issue involved. If it is a particular bill, the number of the bill should be noted.
To find out who represents you in government, link to the following websites:
U.S. House www.house.gov/representatives/find/
U.S. Senate www.senate.gov/senators
Florida House www.myfloridahouse.gov
Florida Senate www.flsenate.gov/senators/find
Jacksonville City Council member City Council members
Mayor Lenny Curry www.coj.net/mayor-curry.aspx
Nassau County Commissioners www.nassaucountyfl.com
Clay County Commissioners www.claycountygov.com/about-us/board-of-county-commissioners
Please encourage your Sate Senator to SUPPORT SB 10. This bill authorizes the purchase of land to use for overflow when Lake Okeechobee is full. This land would prevent polluted fresh water from being sent to sea via the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries. When this happened in 2016 it resulted in a massive, toxic blue-green algae bloom. See your current Audubon Naturalist magazine or visit fl.audubon.org for further details.
3rd Annual CBC4Kids Was For the Birds!
Kids were getting in on the Christmas Bird Count when Duval Audubon held its 3rd Annual CBC4Kids (Christmas Bird Count For Kids). Participants began by learning birding basics in a Binocular Boot Camp. Then they moved on to hit the trails with experienced birders to count as many birds they could in one hour.
Despite a cold and windy day, 36 children along with about 40 adults spotted over 200 birds and 26 different species. Highlights included a pair of Bald Eagles, a Barred Owl, a Red Shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Pied-billed Grebes, Yellow-throated Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Northern Flickers. After tallying their findings, the children were treated to a program by the Jacksonville Zoo’s WILD Ambassadors. The Ambassadors introduced the children to a box turtle, armadillo, amazon parrot and a boa constrictor. Wild Birds Unlimited of Julington Creek and Publix provided the kids with refreshments and supplies.
The annual event is held each year at Camp Chowenwaw and is geared toward 8–16 year olds; although younger children still enjoy the day.
CBC4Kids is modeled after the centuries old Audubon Christmas Bird Count and celebrates nature, parks, education and outdoor family fun. A huge thanks to all of our volunteers and sponsors, Camp Chowenwaw, the WILD Ambassadors, Wild Bird Unlimited of Julington Creek and Publix. You helped make this year a wonderful success!