TMHughes is a writer of many things, and one of those things is about particular wildlife in specific locations.
Birds of the Everglades
The Florida Everglades, also known as the River of Grass is one of the most unique ecosystems in North America. It is actually an immensely wide river, over 60 miles wide, that flows south out of Lake Okeechobee into the Bay of Florida. Most of the area is protected by the National Park Service as the Everglades National Park. The Everglades are so important to global ecology that it has been designated a World Heritage Site, a Wetland of International Significance and an International Biosphere Preserve.
The Kissimee River is where it all starts. The Kissimee River flows south through Florida until it reaches Lake Okeechobee just to the south of the Orlando area. Lake Okeechobee is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States after the Great Lakes. The lake is very shallow, only a few feet deep in most places for most of the year. Inflowing water causes the lake to fill up and spill over its banks to the south, forming the Everglades. The Everglades are also very shallow, again only a few feet deep. Because the river is so shallow, and because the geography of southern Florida is so flat, it spreads out and forms a wetland similar to a river delta and swampland.
Forests of the Florida Everglades
Believe it or not, the Everglades are home to large stands of trees and forests. The predominant tree species is the Cyprus, which loves the marshy conditions. The trees form small islands, called hammocks, in the river and are home to many of the Everglades' bird and animal species. Sometimes hammocks can form that are large enough to provide ample soil for other trees to move in. Along the banks and anywhere that land has formed, other varieties of trees can be found. These include deciduous and coniferous trees like oaks and pines.
There are over 350 different species of birds found in the Florida Everglades. The US Park Service divides them into three categories: wading birds, land birds and birds of prey. There are so many birds in the Everglades that the famous American naturalist John James Audobon wrote, "they appeared in such numbers as to actually block out the light of the sun for a time."
Birds of Prey in the Florida Everglades
There are a wide variety of birds of prey living in the Florida Everglades. These birds hunt other birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and fish. Because of the diversity of wildlife found in the Florida Everglades, it supports many different types of birds of prey, also known as raptors.
- Eagles - There are two distinct types of American Eagles residing in the Florida Everglades. Golden Eagles and Bald Eagles. Everyone should recognize the white head and majestic profile of the Bald Eagle, the symbol of our nation. The Golden Eagle is another very larger raptor, with wings spanning five feet or more. Eagles hunt for fish and small animals they spot from high in the air with their "eagle eyes". They swoop in at high speed, surprising their prey and scooping it up in their large talons.
- Hawks and Buzzards - There are about 7 varieties of hawks and buzzards living in the Florida Everglades. Some reside year round and others are only part-time visitors, migrating through the Everglades following their food or moving to winter/summer homes.
- Osprey - Also known as Fish Eagles, Fish Hawks and Sea Hawks. Osprey are common sights along coastal and estuarine environments where they cruise along looking for fish they can snatch up out of the water. Osprey like to build very large nests high up in trees along riverways, inlets and estuaries.
- Falcons - Falcons are among the smallest of the Florida Everglades birds of prey. These birds hunt for small mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well as other birds. The Peregrine Falcon, a year-round resident, lays claim to two separate interesting factoids. The Peregrine Falcon is the world's most widespread bird, living on nearly every continent and in every habitat except the extreme poles, and it is the world's fastest animal. The Peregrine can reach speeds of up to and over 200 miles an hour while it is diving after its prey.... other birds in flight.
Wading Birds of the Area
The wading birds are perhaps the ones most associated with the Florida Everglades. It is very easy to imagine the great river of grass and snowy white herons wading through the water. There are actually sixteen different species of wading birds residing in the Everglades. All wading birds have long legs, which help them to navigate the grass and mud. They also all have specialized beaks that help them catch their preferred food. Most feed on fish, but some prefer freshwater clams and mollusks or crayfish.
- Ibis - There are two species of Ibis living in the Everglades. They range from northern South America to southern North America.
- Herons - There are over 64 recognized heron species worldwide, many of them making their home in the Everglades. These long-legged birds are typically fish hunters and can be seen stalking prey in shallow water or from low-hanging branches.
- Egrets - Are a sub-grouping of herons. These birds are really just herons but are usually snowy white and have some sort of plume on their heads.
- Spoonbill - These odd-looking birds are related to the Ibis and can be found around the world. The Roseate Spoonbill is common in the Everglades.
- Wood Stork - The Wood Stork is the only breeding stork in North America. It has a wide distribution in South and Central America and the Caribbean. These birds also live and breed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and extreme southeastern North Carolina. The Wood Stork likes Cyprus swamps, mangrove thickets and marshland, where it can hunt and nest.
Of the more than 350 species of birds commonly found in the Everglades, the majority by far is the land birds. These are birds that live or nest on land or in trees associated with drier conditions. The hammocks and banks of the Everglades provides ample area and food for hundreds of these species. Many of the land birds are migratory and are only seen in the Everglades for a short time each year. Some of the land birds common in the Everglades are also common backyard birds in other parts of North America.
- Owls - The two most common owls found in the Everglades are the Great Horn Owl and the Barred Owl. These large, nocturnal birds can be seen roosting in trees by day and heard hooting at night. The eerie quality of the Cyprus swamps is enhanced by the "hoot hoot hoot" of an owl.
- Woodpeckers - Several species of woodpeckers can be found year-round in the Everglades and south Florida. The Pileated Woodpecker, also known as "Woody Woodpecker," is the largest of the woodpecker species. The Red Cockaded Woodpecker is an endangered species that has been reintroduced to the Everglades. Other woodpecker species found here include the Red Bellied Woodpecker and the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
- Cardinals and Blue Jays- Cardinals and Blue Jays are among the most recognizable birds in all of North America. These beautiful and colorful birds are also well known in the Everglades and south Florida.
- Warblers- Warblers are often seen in the pine and oak forests of the Everglades during the winter months. These beautiful birds are a joy to see and hear as they sing away the day. Warblers migrate into the Everglades during the cold season and then move back into their mating ranges in the summer.
- Everglades | National Park Foundation
Traveling in Florida isn’t complete without stopping at Everglades National Park—a swampland just outside Miami, where visitors can see alligators.
- Everglades National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Everglades National Park Official Webpage, Everglades National Park, Everglades,national parks,national park,everglades national park,everglades park
- National Geographic - Birds
Your destination for news, pictures, facts, and videos about birds.
- National Audubon Society
Audubon protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow.
- Online bird guide, bird ID help, life history, bird sounds from Cornell
Use our Bird Guide to identify birds, learn about the life history, listen to the sounds, and watch bird behavior on video--the most comprehensive guide to Nort
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 12, 2013:
What an amazing variety of birds that can be found in the Everglades! You did a great job describing them and also including some information about this national park. I took the liberty of adding a link from your hub to my latest one just published titled The Water World of the 3 National Parks in Florida. Hopefully many more people will be reading your informative and beautiful hub. Many up votes and tweeting.