Kite Tales - March 2017


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Kite Tales

the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail's monthly newsletter

burrowing owl
Burrowing owl by Jack Rogers

Burrowing Owls!

Have you seen a Florida burrowing owl? They are such a fascinating bird so it came as no surprise when our google analytics indicated it was the most popular bird on our website. Burrowing owls as their name implies, make their homes underground. There are two populations of burrowing owl in the United States; the Western and Florida. The western subspecies found west of the Mississippi River takes advantage of abandoned prairie dog tunnels to make their home. The Florida subspecies excavates their own but will sometimes use burrows created by gopher tortoises and armadillos. They live as single breeding pairs or in loose colonies of two or more families. Unlike most owls they can be active throughout the day and are often seen standing guard at the entrance to their burrow. In Florida, Burrowing owls typically nest in March but they have been known to nest any time between October and May. Females lay up to 8 eggs and incubate them for about 4 weeks. Once hatched the young rely on their parents care for 12 weeks and cannot fly until they’re about 6 weeks old. They’re fed insects, small lizards, frogs, snakes, rodents and even small birds. The Florida burrowing owl is classified as a “species of special concern” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Historically, the burrowing owl occupied the prairies of central Florida. In recent times these populations have decreased due to habitat loss but in south Florida the population has increased due to modification of habitat in developed areas. Burrowing owls can be found on golf courses, pastures, airports, ball fields, and in residential areas.

If you have burrowing owls nesting in your neighborhood you can help them. Visit the FWC website for more information.

If you want to see a Florida burrowing owl visit the birding trail website and click on the Latest eBird sightings button.

Recommended trail sites for viewing Florida burrowing owls

o   Brian Piccolo Park

o   Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

o   Prairie Driving Loop


WMA 75th anniversary update

Andy’s big year

February was a busy travel month but it gave Andy the opportunity to visit several wildlife management areas around the state. The Wings Over Florida field trip to the Florida Keys WEA wasn’t as productive as he had hoped but magnificent frigatebird, prairie warbler and a female American redstart (brilliant views!) were added to his list. Living a few miles from L. Kirk Edwards WEA has its benefits and several visits produced typical woodland species such as red-bellied woodpecker, Carolina chickadee and common yellowthroat as well as a typically skulky and fussy sedge wren! Bufflehead, blue-headed vireo, hermit thrush, yellow-bellied sapsucker and yellow-throated warbler showed off during his trips to Aucilla and Big Bend WMA, two sites that attract an amazing variety of birds. Andy has now visited 8 different lead wildlife management areas and has spotted 83 species.

Citizen science on WMAs

A recent analysis of eBird records showed that e-birders have submitted over 6,000 checklists and spotted more than 280 different bird species across the FWC’s 46 lead wildlife management areas.

WMA tip of the month

Have you seen an American woodcock in Florida? March is a good month to see this species in central and north Florida, especially during the full moon period. The next full moon is on March 12. Look for woodcocks on warm evenings in forests, forest edges, old fields, and wet meadows. For much of the year this bird can be difficult to see but during early spring, males engage in courtship flights over their territories, calling frequently.

For more information on American woodcocks.

For a map of Florida’s lead wildlife management areas.

Upcoming WMA 75 events

Aucilla Wildlife Management Area Bioblitz on May 6th

Register for free here >>>

Wings Over Florida birds and butterfly field trip to Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area on June 3rd

Register for free here >>>

Photo contest

Capture the beauty of Florida's WMAs! Explore Florida’s many Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and Wildlife and Environmental Areas (WEAs) to capture moments and share your memories. Submit them to our 75 Years Wild Photo Contest. To learn more on how to participate visit the WMA 75 website

Thomas Wilton has earned his first 3 certificates

Wings Over Florida Butterfly

You can now take part in the Wings Over Florida butterfly program at 4 of our birding trail sites. If you are visiting Oakland Nature Preserve, Orlando Wetlands Park, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and Key West Botanical Gardens keep a tally of how many different butterfly species you see and then ask a member of staff about getting your zebra longwing certificate. This fun program is great for families…you only need to see 10 different butterfly species to earn your first certificate! As always you can apply for certificates online.


eBooks for the trail

All 4 of our section trail guides are now available as eBooks from Amazon. 

You can purchase them for your Kindle. Don’t have a kindle? Then we got you covered! 
Download the FREE Kindle Reader App 
iTunes (iPhone & iPad) >>>
Google Play (android) >>>

Need Help? 
Help for Apple devices >>>
Help for Android devices >>>


  • Burrowing Owl
  • WMA 75 update
  • Wings Over Florida
  • eBooks


The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) is a network of 515 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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