Kite Tales December 2018


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Kite Tales

The monthly newsletter of the

Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail

Group Birding

Group Birding

Birding Brings Us Together

What would cause a lawyer, retired dentist and biologist to meet up outdoors at 7:30 a.m., on a Saturday morning? Their anticipation of an exciting search for migratory birds! Birdwatchers come from every walk of life, and bird watching is a great way to bring people from different backgrounds together. Local Audubon chapters, Meet-Ups or other birding groups offer field trips to birders. Here are a few reasons why you should bird with others:

  • It’s a great way to learn! Everyone knows different things. You may be a strong warbler identifier but could use help with sparrows. Chances are someone in the group you go out with is good with sparrow identification and can give you tips on spotting sparrows.
  • More eyes see more birds. When birding by yourself, you only have so much capacity for viewing birds. However, when people are birding together, all of you are more likely to see birds because there are more people looking!
  • Networking! Going out with a group is a great way both to meet new people and find out about more areas that are good for birding. If you are new to a location or looking for different places to explore, just ask someone!

Florida has lots of birding groups in all regions of the state that would love for you to join them for a bird walk or educational program! If you haven’t yet made a New Year’s Resolution, maybe you should consider “birding with a group” as an option!

Turkey Vulture

Birding Dictionary

Every hobby and activity have their own terminology, or jargon. Birding is no different, out in the field you may hear terms like “twitching”, “dipped” and “vagrants”. Here are a few commonly used birding terms that will make you sound like a pro!

Empid (noun): a bird in the flycatcher genus Empidonax, these species are notorious for being difficult to identify.

  • Example: “I like forest birds but am terrible at empid identifications.” 

Giss (noun): overall impression of a species determined by the general shape, movement and behavior of a species. Experienced birders can often identify a bird based on giss alone.

  • Example: “Based on the giss, I can tell that the bird that flew by was a blue jay.”

TV (noun): a nickname for a turkey vulture.

WOF Certificates

Big Year Finale!

It’s just about time to wrap up our birding list for the year and do an overall count. How did you do? Did you meet your goal? Did you get any new lifers?

Give yourself a pat on the back for getting out and finding wildlife. And when you have completed your count, head on over to the Wings Over Florida page and apply for your 2018 Big Year Certificate! If you haven’t already applied for all your other Florida Life List certificates – make sure to do that too. 

Parents – the Wings Over Florida certificates are a great way to keep your kids engaged in going outdoors and foster a lifelong love of nature. 

Not only are these certificates a fun way to be rewarded, they are also beautiful pieces of artwork that are great to show off! They represent the journey you have taken to view wildlife in Florida, whether it is in your backyard or at some of the 510 Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail sites. If you would like to share your Florida birding story with us, please email it and include a picture to – we may feature it in a future Kite Tales and on Facebook!

Dagney Johnson State Park

Dayny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Trail Site of the Month

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is a great site on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. This is a site in the south section in Key Largo. It is renowned as a fantastic birding destination, and anyone who visits would agree!  Over 6 miles of nature trails provide a wealth of opportunities for birders and photographers. 

This park encompasses 2,500 acres one of the largest tracts of West Indian tropical hardwood hammock in the United States.  The thick tropical vegetation hides migratory birds in April and October and residents throughout the year.  Key resident species to look for are: white-crowned pigeon, mangrove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo.  Wild cotton, mahogany mistletoe and Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly are some of the 84 protected and rare species of plants and animals you may see while hiking the trails.

This site is unique and worth the visit.  Make sure to bring water and get here early as there is a lot of hiking and biking available.

Site Address: CR 905, Key Largo, Florida 33037
Contact: (305) 451-1202
Site Hours, Daily: sunrise - sunset 

Check out the eBird list for this park.

Upcoming Events

December 11 – Birding in the Garden (Naples, FL)
December 12 – Wednesday Bird Walk at the Wetlands (Gainesville, FL)
December 13 – Shorebird Walks at Matanzas Inlet (St. Augustine, FL)
December 14 – Christmas Bird Count (Flagler County, FL)
December 15 – South County Christmas Bird Count (Pinellas County, FL)
December 15 – STA 5/6 Driving Bird Tour (Clewiston, FL)
December 16 – Christmas Bird Count (Gainesville, FL)
December 16 – Little Talbot Island State Park Field Trip (Jacksonville, FL)
December 17 – The White Birds of the Coastal South … and their relatives! (Jacksonville, FL) 

These are just a few events listed on our calendar. Check out the event page for more!

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.


  • Birding Brings Us Together
  • Birding Dictionary
  • Big Year Finale!
  • 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.



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