Kite Tales June 2018

ISSUE NUMBER 20 • June 2018

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Kite Tales

The monthly newsletter of the

Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail

Stygian Owl by Mark Hedden/
Stygian Owl by Mark Hedden/

Stygian Owl

Have you heard about the newest bird sensation to hit Florida? Key West birder, Mark Hedden, found a Stygian Owl (Asio stygius) on a private property in Key West, Florida, on June 1st. This is the third record in the ABA Area of this species and the first record in Florida. This is huge news for Florida, and this is an ABA Code 5 sighting. The first (1994) and second (1996) sightings of Stygian Owl were both at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in Mission, Texas.

Unfortunately, this bird has not been seen again after the initial sighting.

This sighting comes on the coat tails of a Tahiti Petrel that was spotted off the coast of North Carolina. Birders everywhere cannot wait to see what amazing sighting pops up next! Find out more about the Stygian Owl sighting here!

Bug hotel by Gina Philhower
Bug Hotel by Gina Philhower

Bug Hotel (June 16)

Bug Hotel Build at Chinsegut Conservation Center

Attracting bugs is not usually something you want to do around your house but the right kind of bugs can benefit your garden.

Learn how building a bug hotel can attract good bugs to your yard! Join the staff at Chinsegut Conservation Center in Brooksville on Saturday, June 16 from 10:0011:30 a.m. for this fun and free class! Find out how to repurpose wood products into a home for critters. Also, learn find out where to find free and low-cost materials to create these masterpieces. This class will include a live demonstration, and you will get to help build a bug house. Learn more about the Florida backyards program, which will help you identify wildlife that visits your backyard.

This class is open to all ages, and registration is not required. For more information, please call (352) 754-6722.

Florida Scrub-Jay by Jack Rogers
Florida Scrub-Jay by Jack Rogers

Florida Scrub-Jay

Restricted to oak scrub communities in Florida, the Florida Scrub-Jay is Florida’s only endemic bird species. They have a complicated social system and engage in cooperative breeding. This breeding method centers around one adult pair and several “helpers.” These helpers" are typically recruited from the adult pair’s older offspring. Together, all the birds in this group defend the territory and assist in feeding the young.

Florida Scrub-Jays are omnivorous, eating a variety of nuts, seeds, insects and even small vertebrates. They contribute to their ecosystem by accidentally dispersing oak trees throughout the scrub. This is done as they forget some of the acorns they cache away for the winter.

This species has been listed as threatened" due to destruction, fragmentation and degradation of the habitat. In the past century, their population has declined by 90 percent. To improve the habitat and boost the population, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, such as Jay Watch and work days to reduce sand pines in their habitat.

Birders come from around the country and world to view these unique birds. See them for yourself using the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail trip planner for viewing locations.

Sandhill Crane by Hannah Buschert

Moss Park

Trail Site of the Month: Moss Park

Hannah Buschert, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) Coordinator, recently visited Moss Park. This site is on the outskirts of Orlando in the east section of the GFBWT. There is a lot to see at this site! An oak hammock offered peeks at Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees and Northern Parulas. Right off the picnic area is Bird Island with hundreds of nesting birds. Wood Storks, White Ibis and Tricolored Herons flew overhead, and their calls were a cacophony of sound! Sandhill Cranes were wandering through the campground foraging for invertebrates.

This Orange County park encompasses over 1,551 acres and is perfect for camping, hiking, picnicking, fishing and more! It is a great birding location and has lots for your non-birding friends to do. Trails connect to Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area, which offers hiking trails, horseback riding and more. Make it your weekend destination, or stop in if you are passing by. Check out the eBird list from Hannah’s short trip to the park.

Site Address: 12901 Moss Park Road, Orlando, Florida 32832

Contact: (407) 254-6840

Site Hours, Daily: 8:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. (summer); 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. (winter) 


June 19 Project WILD (Bradenton, Florida)

Do you know about any other bird or wildlife-related events going on in Florida? Help us spread the word by letting us know! Send in the times, dates, locations and contacts to for posting on the GFBWT website.

Events must be related to birds or other wildlife and must be open to the public. Examples include interpretive programming, summer camps and family programs.


  • Stygian Owl
  • Bug Hotel Build
  • Florida Scrub-Jay
  • Trail Site of the Month
  • Events

The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail (GFBWT) is a network of 510 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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