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    Friday, September 14, 2018 3:32 PM

    The Gulf Fritillary is a brightly colored butterfly common across the extreme southern portions of the United States. It is found in all 67 counties in Florida and is a regular inmost butterfly gardens, including those in urban settings. This butterfly does migrate throughout the Southeastern United States with adults moving to the northern limits in the spring and migrating back south throughout the state of Florida in late summer and fall.

    Saturday, September 01, 2018 12:10 PM

    The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is one of the more common birds you'll find around the area. It's range is all throughout the Southeastern United States and prefers swamp and riverside wooded habitats. It feeds on insects, berries and nuts and sometimes catches flying insects as well.

    Saturday, August 25, 2018 12:55 PM

    Since 1996, the Zebra Longwing Butterfly has been classified as the state butterfly of Florida. It's easily identified by it's long, narrow wings that are black with light yellow zebra-like stripes. It flourishes in damp, tropical areas and is typically found in hammocks and thickets. Due to this habitat preference, south Florida is the most common area in the state to find this butterfly. The passion vine / passion flower is the host plant to the Zebra Longwing. The host plant is the plant that the larvae ( caterpillar ) feeds on. The larvae of the Zebra Longwing have white bodies and long black spines and a yellow head. Several larvae will hatch from eggs laid on the underside of a leaf and these veracious caterpillars will continuously eat, grow quickly and if conditions are right can go from egg to butterfly in just a little over three weeks.


    The Zebra Longwing can be seen all around the islands. Native passion vine is throughout the island, providing the needed host plant for generation after generation of this butterfly.

    Saturday, August 04, 2018 4:48 PM

    The Great Egret, next to the White Ibis, may be one of the most commonly observed wading birds here on Sanibel and Captiva. The tall, graceful Great Egret is a wader of the quiet waters all around Southwest Florida throughout the entire year. It is certainly smaller than the Great Blue Heron with bright white feathers throughout, a yellow bill and black legs.

    Sunday, July 29, 2018 7:03 AM

    The Eastern Phoebe is in the Flycatcher family and is considered an early migrant, bringing with it hope that spring is at hand. They often nest on buildings and bridges and prefer woodland edge habitat, which makes the golf course a great place for it to spend it's days hunting for food during the winter months in Florida. It's common winter range to be found is from the coastal Carolinas, along the Southeastern U.S. shoreline to western Texas. The Phoebe feeds on mostly insects such as small wasps, bees, beetles, flies and grasshoppers. In many cases, it catches flying insects in mid-air for a meal. The Phoebe also eats fruits and berries during the cooler months and these are considered an important part of the winter diet. Although not seen on the islands at this time of the year, the Phoebe is a great birdwatching favorite to keep an eye out for during our Florida winters.

    Saturday, July 21, 2018 4:28 PM
    Rat snakes are the one of the largest kinds of species of snakes, with over 50 types of sub-species. One of the most common of this large group is the Yellow Rat Snake. They are a relatively large constrictor snake, growing up to five to seven feet in length, and in the south are yellow in color with long brown stripes that cover the entire length of the snake. Yellow Rat Snakes are found along the coastal United States, with the most populated area of them in Southern Georgia and along the Savannah River in the Carolinas. Being that they are found mostly near water, they are excellent swimmers. They are most active at dusk and throughout the night and as their name indicates, the most common food in it's diet is rats. Their diet is quite varied though and the young survive on lizards, frogs and mice.
    Saturday, July 14, 2018 12:55 PM
    The Tri-colored Heron, formerly known as the Louisiana Heron, is a year-round resident here in South Florida and can be found in the coastal United States from North Carolina all the way to the southern tip of Texas. It is typically found in the quiet, shallow waters that make up coastal lowlands, sheltered estuaries and mangrove swamps in coastal communities. Its name comes from the three colors, Blue-gray, Lavender and White that exhibit on the adult bird. 
    Saturday, July 07, 2018 6:15 PM

    The Pileated Woodpecker, the largest woodpecker in North America, excavates large holes into dead palm trees and other dead hardwoods in search of insects for it's next meal. Carpenter ants can make up 60% of it's diet, which are most commonly found in rotten wood of all types. If not eating insects, the Pileated also feeds on wild fruits, nuts and berries. The Pileated Woodpecker is found year-round all across Southwest Florida. They nest in new cavity each year that is excavated by both the male and the female. The female lays between 3 -5 eggs and both parents participate in the incubation of the eggs, which lasts approximately three weeks. Once hatched, the young leave the nest in four weeks but stay close to the parents for the next coupke


    The Pileated isn't a difficult one to spot or identify. Always in search of the next meal, they seldom sit still and are very busy flying from tree to tree. The well-known " Woody the Woodpecker " was modeled after the Pileated Woodpecker, if memory serves me right, he's quite a busy woodpecker also. Keep an eye to the sky for the Pileated Woodpecker!


    Friday, June 29, 2018 11:53 AM

    The Florida Mud Turtle is one of many varieties of Mud Turtles that are found throughout the United States, Central America, South America and Mexico. These relatively small turtles can live up to 50 years and typically inhabit lakes and streams that are heavily vegetated. They prefer clearer waters with a muddy bottom so that they can burrow into the soft mud and hibernate when the time is right.

    Friday, June 08, 2018 5:37 PM

    he Green Heron is a stocky, small, solitary, somewhat secretive heron that lives around small bodies of water or densely vegetated areas. The "green" on the birds back is an iridescent color and often looks dull or dark blue. The Green Heron forages by mostly standing still or stalking very slowly at edge of shallow water or perched on emergent aquatic plants like this Cattail in the photo, waiting for prey to approach, sometimes using "bait," to lure fish within striking distance.

    Saturday, June 02, 2018 1:58 PM

    The Black Skimmer is truly a treat to see in action. The skimmer flies low, with its large lower mandible plowing through the water, snapping the bill shut when coming into contact with a fish. The graceful precision of the hunt is unlike any other bird and skimmers are sometimes placed in their own family, although they are truly related to the terns. Black Skimmers are coastal throughout most of North America and can often be seen in large flocks resting on sand bars and beaches.


    Saturday, May 26, 2018 11:40 AM

    The Mangrove Tree Crab can be found all along the barrier islands of Southwest Florida and may at first glance look like a spider climbing along our native Red, Black and White Mangroves. As crabs go, they are very small, only being an average of an inch across.

    Saturday, May 19, 2018 2:07 PM

    The Red-shouldered hawk is a very recognizable year-round bird of prey here in Southwest Florida, especially in swamps and deciduous and mixed forests with tall trees and open understory. This hawk of the woodlands will often be found nesting in pine woods and even mangroves throughout the state of Florida. This medium sized hawk hunts by watching from a perch and is often seen swooping out of a tall tree along the edge of the golf course to grabbing a meal by surprise that's travelling in the open turf. Their diet consists of small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and even other birds. Their quick agile flight capabilities will surprise you as the whip through thick wooded areas showing off their latest catch.

  • Sweet Shots: Swallow-tailed Kite
    Wednesday, May 09, 2018 5:56 PM

    The Swallow-tailed Kite, a migratory raptor, is perhaps the most beautiful and graceful bird of prey. It is extremely maneuverable in flight, catching flying insects in flight and swooping low over trees, picking small prey like lizards, snakes, and frogs from the tree tops. I've often observed them grabbing a meal from the tree trop or right of the turfgrass surface and eating while in flight, no easy task I'm sure. 

  • SWEET SHOTS: The Killdeer
    Saturday, May 05, 2018 10:36 AM

    The Killdeer, the least water associated of all of the shorebirds, is a Robin - sized Plover with brownish-tan on top and white below. It has two distinctive black bands on it's white chest and it's face is black with white patches. The Killdeer spends it's time walking and running along the ground. It breaks into flight when it's disturbed and typically flies for just a short period with quick intermittent wing beats. Keep a lookout for Killdeer in open, low vegetation areas such as parking lots, pastures, large open lawns and of course golf courses.

  • SWEET SHOTS: American Green Tree Frog
    Thursday, April 26, 2018 6:31 PM
    The American Green Tree Frog is a small frog, 1.5 - 2.5 inches in length, that is distributed throughout the Southeastern United States that greatly varies in color from bright green to gray or yellow. It has a light cream colored belly with a light white or yellow stripe running along the side of it's jaw and along it's body.
  • Sweet Shots from the Sanctuary GC: The Blue Grosbeak
    Friday, April 20, 2018 11:44 AM

    The Blue Grosbeak is not your common bird that you see on Sanibel year-round, rather a migratory that's actually spending some time on Sanibel right now. The recent cool front that pushed down and provided us with some much needed rain and some lower temperatures and humidity, also pushed many migratory birds to Florida's West coast as they were undoubtedly making their way north from the moderate temperatures and climates of South America. Now that the Grosbeaks and other migratories are here, they can feast on the great variety of food provided by our native plants throughout Sanibel and Captiva. 

  • Sweet Shots from the Sanctuary GC: The Brown Pelican
    Thursday, April 12, 2018 2:35 PM

    The Brown Pelican may be one of the most recognizable birds here on the islands. Hardly a day goes by when we don't see several flying overhead or seemingly skipping across the water alongside the 4th hole here at the Club. The Brown Pelican is a large bird, weighing up to 5 pounds and having a wingspan of up to 80". They live all along the Southern and Western sea coasts and are very seldom seen inland. Their unmistakable feeding habit is often misunderstood. It is often thought that the Pelican plunges into the water catching a fish but the Pelican is actually plunging into groups of fish, essentially stunning the fish and allowing the pelican to scoop up the disoriented fish with its large bill, which has an expandable throat pouch.  

  • Sweet Shots from the Sanctuary GC: The Gopher Tortoise
    Friday, April 06, 2018 1:58 PM

    The Gopher Tortoise, which is the state tortoise of Florida, has a strong presence on Sanibel and is a protected species throughout our state. It is considered a Keystone Species in that the burrows it creates with its large strong legs, are home to hundreds of other animals. Tortoises will often create more than one burrow and will travel back and forth between burrows for added protection and a variety of diet. The burrows are several feet in length and here on the islands are limited in depth due to our shallow water table. The burrow of the tortoise offers a climate controlled environment in that it stays cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

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