Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
Whooping cranes numbered less than two dozen in the early 1940s. Today there are about 500 individuals, with nearly a third of that number in captivity. The recovery is due to an involved captive breeding and reintroduction program that includes training the birds to migrate using ultralight aircraft.
Based on historical records of whooping cranes in Florida, two reintroduction programs were undertaken.
A non-migratory population was established in the Kissimmee prairie area of central Florida and a separate population that migrates between the Neceda National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and the Chassahowitzka NWR in coastal west central Florida.
The largest population of whooping cranes migrate from north Canada to Texas.
This is the tallest bird in North America with adults being mostly white, with black wingtips and red on the head. Feathers are tufted over the rump.
One of the rarest plants in Florida, Ziziphus celata has been found in only six populations on the Lake Wales Ridge in Polk and Highlands counties.
Most of the current locations are in pastures, but the historic habitat is believed to be sandhill, scrub and/or the transition zone between these habitats.
Florida jujube grows up to one to two meters in height with many zig-zagging branches. The deciduous leaves are alternate, entire, elliptic to obovate, shiny on the upper surface and fall in December before flowering begins. The tiny white, five-petaled flowers have yellow-green sepals and appear in winter on short pedicels. Mature plants bloom profusely, but each naturally occurring location usually consists of a single genetic individual that is self-incompatible making them incapable of producing offspring.
Bok Sanctuary, in cooperation with the Center for Plant Conservation, has been cultivating Z. celata from root cuttings from each of the natural populations. This photograph was taken in the Bok Sanctuary endangered plant garden.
This adult was perched high in a pine tree bathed in bright morning light.
Red shouldered hawks range throughout the central and eastern United States and west of the Sierra Nevada in California.
Most are year-round residents, but there is also a population that breeds in the northeast United States and the adjacent area of Canada and then migrates to Mexico for the winter.
Smaller than red-tailed hawks, Buteo lineatus is usually found in or near wet woodlands hunting mainly mammals, some reptiles and amphibians - typically by dropping on the prey from perches. Females are typically larger than males. They are one of the most vocal hawks in North America.
There are five subspecies of B. lineatus. The two found in Florida are paler than the others, with the hawks in south Florida being the palest. The California population is a separate subspecies from the four eastern forms.
An epiphytic plant of hammocks and cypress swamps from Putnam and Flagler counties south through the peninsula.
Also found in Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
The largest of Florida bromeliads, T. utriculata resembles T. fasiculata but generally has more recurved and thinner leaves without a keel-line on the lower surface. This species grows as solitary plants, not producing secondary plants or 'pups'. The flowering spike extends well above the leaves with the flowers having light green bracts and whitish petals. After flowering and seeding the plant dies.
One of the larger owls found in Florida and one of the more likely to be seen during the day.
The distinctive "who cooks for you, who cooks for you alllllll" call can often be heard beginning around dusk in the woods of Florida and is a pleasant refrain when camping around the state. Barred owls are found mostly in the eastern portion of the United States, but the range now extends into Mexico and Canada and overlaps the range of the closely related spotted owl in the northwest.
This shrub or small tree of tidal habitats can be found along the Florida peninsula coast from Levy and Volusia Counties southward, plus Wakulla County in the panhandle.
Rhizophora mangle is the only species of the red mangrove family in Florida.
It is one of the four species in three separate families that are considered mangroves, a grouping made due to their shared habitat and each species' unique adaptations for tolerating the salt-water environment.
The other members of this group are the black mangrove, white mangrove and buttonwood, or button mangrove.
Red mangrove can most easily be distinguished from the others by the reddish arching above-ground prop roots and the long propagules - seeds that germinate while still on the plant. The long, narrow appendages develop from the fruit before falling off and floating away to quickly take root once they come to rest, typically in a muddy location.
The opposite, entire elliptic leaves are 4-15cm long, 2-5 cm wide, leathery and dark shiny green on the upper surface. The flowers have four yellowish to white narrow petals in clusters of two or three growing from the leaf axils. They may bloom at any time of the year.