Kite Tales August 2018

ISSUE NUMBER 22 • August 2018

gfbwt logo

Kite Tales

The monthly newsletter of the

Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail

CWA Piping Plovers at Huguenot by Andy Wraithmell
Piping Plovers at Fort George Inlet CWA by Andy Wraithmell

What is a Critical Wildlife Area?

Critical Wildlife Areas are established to protect certain species from human disturbances. These areas are managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners. These organizations maintain CWA closure signs and deal with exotic plants and control predators. 

Florida’s CWAs allow for thriving bird or bat populations. Individual CWAs are closed during all or part of the year to provide protected habitat for nesting, roosting or foraging. These closures limit disturbance to wildlife.  

CWAs offer some of the best birding in Florida, as well as protecting bird and other wildlife species. Add a CWA to your next birding trip and see for yourself why these locations are protected. While watching wildlife, please make sure to view from outside the buffer zones on land or on a boat. Check out this webpage to locate a CWA near you and see when it is closed to human activities.

A Least Tern and her chicks check out a newly placed chick shelter. Photo provided by Bonnie Samuelsen of Audubon Florida.
A least tern and her chicks check out a newly placed chick shelter. Photo provided by Bonnie Samuelsen of Audubon Florida.

Northwest Volunteers Help Shorebirds

Volunteers in the FWC’s Northwest Region braved the summer heat to assist nesting shorebirds this season. Volunteers Gary Kenworthy and Vernon Todd dedicated hours to monitoring a survey route in Walton County. Although no shorebirds ended up nesting at their site Gary and Vernon diligently took turns surveying the route twice a month. This coverage ensured that any shorebirds nesting there would be protected and closely monitored. Thank you for all your time, Gary and Vernon!

Fourteen more volunteers came together over the course of two days to make “chick shelters.” These were placed in nesting areas across northwest Florida. These tent-like structures protect least tern, snowy plover and black skimmer chicks from predators such as gulls and crows. They also provide some relief from the heat! This project was a joint effort among the FWC, Audubon Florida, Florida State Parks and volunteers. Over 35 shelters were made to protect chicks across the region. Thank you to these volunteers for taking an active role in shorebird conservation!

Leila poses with her Wings Over Florida Certificate.
Leila poses with her Wings Over Florida Certificate

Wings Over Florida Story

Leila is 8 years old and a resident of northwest Florida, where she discovered her passion for nature!

In December 2017, Leila first participated in the Wings Over Florida program after she took a liking to the fluttering visitors in her butterfly garden. After successfully identifying 12 butterfly species, Leila applied for her first Wings Over Florida certificate.

Upon receiving her Wings Over Florida application, we excitedly mailed her the Zebra Longwing butterfly certificate, which documents seeing and identifying 10 butterfly species and congratulated her on achieving this first milestone of the butterfly program.

A few months later, we noticed another application from Leila, this time for birding certificates! For Leila, spotting butterflies led to her becoming intrigued by more of nature’s flying friends. As of March 2018, Leila’s Florida life list totaled 63 bird species, which earned her two new certificates. We were delighted to see she was continuing in our program, as it meant that she had a growing interest in wildlife.

Leila is an active member of the Audubon Society and takes birding courses through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, all admirable for someone her age! She aspires to one day have a career in ornithology and is off to a great start. She is aiming to see 150 birds by the end of 2018, which we are confident she will achieve. Just this month she was awarded her certificate for 100 life birds!

If you would like to share your Wings Over Florida story, please send it to

Red-bellied Woodpecker by Andy Wraithmell
Red-bellied Woodpecker by Andy Wraithmell

Trail Site of the Month: Red Bug Slough Preserve

Hannah Buschert, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail Coordinator, recently visited Red Bug Slough Preserve in Sarasota County. This 72-acre county preserve offers beautiful mesic hammock habitat, perfect for warblers during migration and other forest birds year-round. These trails through the forest lead to an open, scenic view of Red Bug Slough. 

Hannah arrived in the late afternoon and ventured out in search of some birds. While on a short hike, she encountered: red-bellied woodpeckers, blue jays and northern cardinals. On longer hikes out along the nearby waterway, you might also see little blue herons, tricolored herons, roseate spoonbills, and maybe even a limpkin!

Nearby, there are several other trail sites (Siesta Beach, Pinecraft Park, Celery Fields, etc.), so it is easy to spend the whole day in Sarasota County birding. But you should not miss Red Bug Slough Preserve! Not only does this site offer a pretty hike, it is also a great place for birding!

Site Address: 5200 Beneva Road, Sarasota, Florida 34231
Contact: (941) 861-5000
Site Hours, Daily: 6:00 a.m. - sunset

Check out the eBird list for this preserve.

Upcoming Events

August 23 – Black Point Bus Tour (Titusville, FL)
August 23 – Guided Boardwalk Hike (Titusville, FL)
August 25 – Black Point Bus Tour (Titusville, FL)
August 25 – Miraculous Monarchs (Tallahassee, FL)
August 30 – Black Point Bus Tour (Titusville, FL)
August 30 – Guided Boardwalk Hike (Titusville, FL)
September 2 – First Sunday at the Refuge (St. Marks, FL)
September 2 – Bird and Nature Tour (St. Marks, FL)
September 5 – Tuscawilla Park Nature Walk (Ocala, FL)
September 8 – St. Johns County Audubon: Fort Matanzas National Monument (St. Augustine, FL)
September 8 – Basic Bird Watching Program (Ocala, FL)

Do you know about any other bird or wildlife-related events going on in Florida? Help 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.


  • What is a Critical Wildlife Area?
  • Northwest Volunteers Help Shorebirds
  • Wings Over Florida Story
  • Trail Site of the Month
  • Upcoming 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.



Visit our website.