Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
These diminutive owls live throughout much of the Florida peninsula, excluding northeast Florida, with a disjunct population in Okaloosa County. They are most likely to be seen in the southern half of the state. The range also includes the Bahamas.
Some designate the Florida burrowing owls as a subspecies while others consider them a separate population of Athene cunicularia, which are resident from the southwestern United States through central Mexico plus parts of South America.
During the breeding season the range extends northward through the western United States into Canada.
Winter populations occur in Texas and the coastal areas of Mexico and Central America.
The only owl likely to be seen standing on the ground during the day, they are diurnal, being most active in the morning and evening hours. Standing 19-25 cm (7-10 in.) tall on long legs, they have a wingspan of 55cm (22 in.). Adults are brown(paler outside Florida) with white spots overall. Fledglings have a buffy underside which in the Florida birds are marked with scattered darker bars.
Burrowing owls live in burrows that they excavate themselves or those left by other animals, such as the gopher tortoise. Natural habitats are dry prairies and sandhills, although they make use of any high, sparsely vegetated, sandy ground, such as pastures and vacant lots.
This rare epiphytic orchid of cypress swamps and wet hammocks in southwest Florida and Cuba is possibly the best known and one of the least seen orchids in Florida.
This leafless plant consists mainly of gray-green roots with short white markings that radiate out along the surface of the supporting tree.
The large white flowers can bloom from April through September with each flower lasting about two weeks.
Ghost orchids are pollinated by the giant sphinx moth.
The orchid pictured here is in the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and was just discovered in the summer of 2007 by some birders looking for owls. It is about 45 feet up, on a large bald cypress tree 150 feet from the boardwalk.
The most common hummingbird in Florida, usually arriving in March after wintering from Mexico to South America. Some do stay in the southern part of the peninsula for the winter.
This is the only hummingbird that breeds in eastern North America. They are typically found in deciduous and mixed forests from the Gulf coast into Canada.
These tiny birds hover at flowers or feeders and have iridescent green backs. The males have an iridescent red throat that appears dark unless the light is shining on it a certain way.
The two other hummingbirds that occur in Florida are the black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds, seen occasionally in the winter months.
A small tree or shrub of coastal hammocks and shell mounds from Brevard and Pinellas Counties south, plus Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the West Indies, Mexico and Central America.
The distinctive flowers are white, becoming pink with age, with very long stamens. They mostly bloom in the evenings during spring and summer in clusters at the end of branches.
The alternate leaves are entire, elliptic to oblong, shiny green above with brown scurfy scales underneath. Leaf size is highly variable from 1.5 - 3.5 cm (2/3 - 1-1/3 in.) wide to 5 to 10 cm (2 - 4 in.) long and sometimes longer and narrower on seedlings.
The fruit is a cylindrical pod 10 - 30 cm (4 - 12 in.) long and constricted between the seeds. When mature the pods split open to reveal the shiny brown seeds embedded in red sticky pulp.
The buds and seeds from the two Florida Capparis species are not palatable to humans. Culinary capers are the pickled unopened flower buds of C. spinosa, the Mediterranean caper tree.
The canna skipper is found in marshes, wet prairies and urban areas throughout Florida.
The range includes Texas, the West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America into Argentina. Strays can be found primarily though the southern United States into the southwestern states and up the eastern Atlantic seaboard.
A dark brown butterfly with semi-transparent spots on the wings, including three on the hindwings. The wingspan is 4.5-5.3 cm (~1.75 - 2 in.). The larval stage of this butterfly is known as the greater canna leafroller. These caterpillars are greenish and somehwat translucent. The cocoon is made by rolling up a leaf and lining it with silk.
This terrestrial orchid often appears in large numbers in flatwoods, oak hammocks and ruderal sites throughout the peninsula, more frequently from central Florida southward.
The range also includes the West Indies, Mexico, Central and South America.
Ten to 40 usually coral to brick red flowers grow atop a stout scape from 20 to 60 cm (8-24 in.) tall. The 2-2.5 cm (3/4 - 1 in.) long flowers and the scape are covered with a fine frosty pubescence. The four to six elliptical to lanceolate leaves can be as large as 5 cm (2 in.) wide and 20 cm (8 in.) long and are absent during flowering time.
There are a number of other flower color forms, including white to pale pink, white and green, and a golden yellow with a rose flush.
Another variety, the Fakahatchee beaked orchid, is found in cypress swamps, middens, hammocks, tramways and on old logs and stumps in Collier County and also in Cuba. Sacoila lanceolata var. paludicola has fewer and larger leaves that are present when flowering. The flowers are typically a deeper red than the more widespread variety.