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Monday, June 25, 2018

June 25, 2018

Location: Fellsmere, WW Ranch Road

I am a baby Loggerhead Shrike
Hollering at my mom to give me some food.
Right now I peck at inedible things  -
My grasp on hunting is still misconstrued.

(Make sure you check out the article linked below to read about this fascinating behavior displayed by newly-fledged Loggerhead Shrikes.)

Sources: Cornell Lab - Loggerhead Shrike

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, June 24, 2018

June 24, 2018

Location: Fellsmere, Broadway

I am known as a Paper Wasp
Specifically, a Polistes major.
I got my name because I use
Wood pulp to make my nest of paper.

(Thanks to Terry Prouty from Antman's Hill for confirming my species ID.)

Sources: Social Wasps of Florida

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, June 23, 2018

June 23, 2018

Location: Maitland, Maitland Middle School

I am the 600th Bald Eagle since 1979
In Florida to rehabbed and released.
Were it not for the Audubon Birds of Prey Center,
I most likely would now be deceased.

(This bird was on the losing end of a territorial dispute and was rescued and rehabilitated at the Audubon Birds of Prey Center.  I was honored to attend his release this week. Click the link below to donate and help out these amazing people and the incredible work that they do.)

Sources: Audubon Birds of Prey Center

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, June 22, 2018

June 22, 2018

Location: Vero Beach, 14th Ave

This is known as a rainbow
Some people take it as a omen or sign
But science tells us what it really means:
Water is being refracted and reflected by light.

But it actually goes so much farther than that,
The angle of the light is also key.
That's not to say rainbows aren't pretty
But science makes them more interesting!

Sources: The Physics Classroom - Rainbow Formation


Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, June 21, 2018

June 21, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

This is a dead Blue Land Crab
We know he was on land when he died
The small snails on him are Hairy Wheel Snails,
They are pulmonate and need air to survive.

"Pulmonate" means that the snails have lungs
And don't live in the water.
There's also a live Mangrove Crab on
The other crab's back - he's a squatter.

(Make sure you click to enlarge this picture, there is a lot going on here. When I took this picture, I thought it was just a picture of a crab. When I downloaded it to my Mac, I realized that there was so much more going on, but I wasn't sure what exactly was happening. Extremely very special thanks to the amazing Heather Stapleton for explaining this picture to me.)

Sources: Interview, Heather Stapleton

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

I am known as a Blue Land Crab
I generally live within 3 miles of the sea.
Most crabs molt twenty times in their life -
I'm overachiever, for me, it's sixty!

Sources: Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory - Cardisoma guanhumi

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 19, 2018

Location: Fellsmere, Broadway (on my front windshield)

I am a Plectrodera scalator
Commonly known as a Cottonwood Borer Beetle
I eat Cottonwood trees from the inside out,
And eventually, to the tree, I am lethal.

(Special thanks to Michael C. Thomas, Ph.D., Florida State Collection of Arthropods, Division of Plant Industry/Entomology, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for his help positively identifying this critter. I was confused because although it is quite distinct, they are usually only seen further north in Florida. As David just returned from there, I am guessing that he accidentally brought home a hitchhiker.)

Sources: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - Plectrodera scalator (Fabricius)

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

I am a Common Grackle
I belong to the Icterid group of birds.
"Icterid" translates to "jaundiced ones"
Ornithologists have a strange way with words.

Actually, many black birds,
Have accents of orange or yellow,
Hence the jaundice in my name,
(But ornithologists are still odd fellows.)

Sources: Beauty of Birds - Icterids

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, June 17, 2018

June 17, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

I'm another immature Little Blue Heron
My under wings are grey, yellow and pink.
I've no money to buy deodorant
So I preen when my underwings stink.

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, June 16, 2018

June 16, 2018


Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

I am an immature Little blue heron
My beauty cannot be disputed.
Even though I'm at that awkward stage
Where I look like I've been electrocuted.

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, June 15, 2018

June 15, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

We are baby Little Blue Herons
Anxiously waiting to be fed.
We put our beaks up to alert our parents,
"We're hungry but, don't eat our heads!"

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, June 14, 2018

June 14, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

We are immature Tricolored Herons
Right now our beaks are orange and grey.
When we're adults our beaks will be orange and black,
Or blue and black when we're in the family way.

Sources: Wildscreen Arkive - Tricoloured Heron

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

We are baby Little  Blue Herons,
We will stay white for about a year and a half.
Our hunting method is to stand and wait,
Unlike other herons who are more choreographed.

Sources: Cornell Lab - Little Blue Heron

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

We are immature Tricolor Herons
We mostly look like our daddy and mummy.
When adult, we'll have fewer red feathers,
But we'll still have a white stripe down our neck and tummy.

Sources: Cornell Lab - Tricolor Heron

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, June 11, 2018

June 11, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

We are immature Snowy Egrets
We have black beaks like our mom and dad.
Although we will grow up to be beautiful,
Right now our plumage just looks patchy and sad.

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

I'm an albino Alligator,
I lack the pigment melanin.
I would not survive in the wild,
Predators would find me cause I don't blend in.

Sources: Safari LTD - Albino/White Alligator

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, June 9, 2018

June 09, 2017

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

I am an Indian Gharial
I live in Asia, and can be 15 feet long.
I remind Dee of a blind date she once had
With a guy's whose teeth were just seriously wrong.

(True story. Ask me about it sometime.)

Sources: Gharial | National Geographic

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, June 8, 2018

June 8, 2018

Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

I am a Peninsula Cooter
Here's a clever nesting ruse that I deploy:
I dig 3 holes, and lay most of my eggs in one,
And use the other 2 as predator decoys.

Sources: Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Zoo - Florida Cooter Pseudemys peninsularis

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, June 7, 2018

June 7, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

This is Portulaca oleracea,
Commonly known as Purslane
It is edible and its taste can vary,
Based on the harvesting time of day.

Sources: University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener Program - Common Purslane, Portulaca oleracea

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6, 2018

Location: Riverwalk, Sebastian

This is the prosoma of a Horseshoe Crab
Although technically, it's not a crustacean.
They are in a class all by themselves,
But spiders are a closer relation.

Sources: Facts About Horseshoe Crabs and FAQ

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June 5, 2018


Location: St. Augustine Alligator Farm (rookery)

I am a Snowy Egret
Protecting my babies from the hot sun.
But from this vantage point I resemble
A Polar bear taking a dump.

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 4, 2018


Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

I am known as a Loggerhead Shrike
Today the temperature is really quite hot.
So I flutter my neck muscles and open my mouth,
In order to promote heat loss -
Which looks like I'm panting, but I'm not.

Sources: How Birds Keep Their Cool

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, June 3, 2018

June 3, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

I am a Eurasian Collared Dove
Today the temperature is 90 degrees.
So I've got my wings and tail splayed out
So my body can get a cool breeze.

Sources: How Birds Keep Their Cool

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, June 2, 2018

June 2, 2018

Location: St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, Fellsmere

I'm known as a Turkey Vulture,
My benefit to the environment is unrefutable
I clean the meat right off the streets
Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful.

Sources: Cornell Lab - Turkey Vulture

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, June 1, 2018

June 1, 2018

Location: Hiawassee, GA, Holiday Inn Express

I'm a female American Robin,
I aggressively clack my bill if I get roused.
In winter I like to eat berries,
Including Honeysuckle, on which I get soused.

Sources: Cornell Lab - American Robin

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May 31, 2018

Location: Lake City, Alligator Lake

We are Black-bellied Whistling Ducks,
We spend more time than other ducks walking around.
We like to nest in cavities or trees,
And sometimes, in a scrape on the ground.

Sources: Cornell Lab - Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018

Location: Lake City, Alligator Lake

This is Pontederia cordata,
Commonly known as Pickerel Weed.
It's easily identified by it's violet flowering spike,
And rounded lobes on it's heart-shaped leaves.

Sources: UF|IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants - Pontederia cordata

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

May 29, 2018

Location: Young Harris, GA, Brasstown Vally Resort

I am a Limenitis arthemis,
Or, Red-spotted Purple butterfly.
I have another form called the White Admiral
And sometimes we hybridize.

I eat the leaves from shrubs and trees
When I'm a caterpillar and young.
As a butterfly I like to eat nectar,
As well as rotting fruit, carrion, and dung.

Sources: Butterflies and Moths of North America - Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, May 28, 2018

May 28, 2018

Location: Punta Gorda, Babcock-Webb WMA

I am a Red-headed Woodpecker,
Don't confuse me with a Red-belly.
Red-bellies have a red stripe on their head,
But my head is red, quite fully.

(Special thanks to today's guest photographer, David Simpson.)

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, May 27, 2018

May 27, 2018

Location: Hiawassee, GA

I'm known as a Song Sparrow
The dark spot on my breast is a defining mark.
This bird can be confused with any other sparrow
Even a House Sparrow, if it’s nighttime and dark.

(Note: I initially misidentified this bird as a House Sparrow. My apologies to anyone who read this before the correction.)

Sources: David, of course,

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 26, 2018

Location: Cape Canaveral, Jetty Park

I am a Eurasian Collared Dove,
I wear a collar like a man of religion.
I was introduced in the Caribbean to take pressure off
Over hunting of the White-crown Pigeon.

Sources: Personal interview, David Simpson

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, May 25, 2018

May 25, 2018

Location: Cocoa Beach, Lori Wilson Park

I'm a Northern Cardinal
Take a good look at my seed-cracking bill.
From this angle I look like I don’t have a crest,
And my eyes make me appear slightly evil.

(Thanks to David for the help writing this one.)

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is Bidens alba
It’s in the Asteraceae family
It’s a Florida Duskywing food source,
And beneficial to native bees.

This is a great plant to have around
Visit the FNPS blog for more information.
And just in case you are wondering,
The actress Jessica is no relation*

* Jessica Alba is in the Hominidae family.

Sources: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Bidens Alba

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May 23, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is a Wreath Lichen,
Cryptothecia striata, specifically.
Lichens are the product of a symbiotic
Relationship between fungus and algae.

Lichens can be used to monitor
Climate change and pollution
By monitoring the levels of CO2
Which affects lichen distribtion.

(Thanks so much to Jim Stahl for his confirmation on the ID.)

Sources: Elevated CO2 Effects on Lichen Frequencies and Diversity Distributions in Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) Station

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 22, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is Poinsettia cyathophora,
Also called Wild Pointsettia or Painted Leaf
The red bracts make it resemble the holiday plant
It's common in Florida, including the Keys.

(Thanks to David Simpson for the ID help.)

Sources: Wild South Florida Naturally Wild - Painted Leaf

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is Richardia grandiflora
Large flowering pusely, commonly.
It is less than half an inch across
I think it's named ironically.

(Thanks to David Simpson for the plant ID.)

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018

Location: Fellsmere, FL, my yard

I am a Tropical Orb Weaver,
Our color varies but I am mostly white
Except for the dark garters at the top of my legs
Which make me look like a woman of the night.

I am a nocturnal spider,
I like to live near oak trees.
I am completely harmless to human beings, 
But not to bugs, which I love to eat. 

(Special thanks to Justin Williams from Ant Man's Hill for the correct identification.)

Sources: Featured Creatures: Tropical Orb Weaver

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May 19, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

I am known as a Raccoon,
I have a black bandit mask.
I've proven to be smart and innovative
In intelligence testing tasks.

(I've been writing my blog in advance this year, so I wrote this post about two weekends ago, I'd been saving the raccoon picture for what would have been my mom's 86th birthday. Mom loved her raccoons and had one for a pet when I a kid. I don't remember it, but I remember hearing the stories about how Charlie would sit at the dinner table and eat spaghetti with the family.  

Those of you who do not follow my personal Facebook page won't understand the irony of celebrating the raccoon's intelligence on my blog today, so let me explain: For the last week, I've been dealing with wildlife trappers, home owners insurance and roof repair contractors - because a raccoon has trashed my roof. I found an Opossum in my attic, but it turns out that they don't make holes, they only come in via holes other critters have made. We did catch and relocate the Opossum and one raccoon, but I am pretty positive our roof-wrecker is still at large. Someone emptied both traps of the marshmallow baits last night and did not trigger either of them. 

So my raccoon saga continues. We have a tarp on the roof at the moment, but I'm hesitant to get the roof actually repaired until we catch the culprit, for fear he will just come back again. I'm sure my mom would have loved this, and more to the point, I don't think she would understand at all why I am trying to have a sweet, adorable raccoon removed from my yard!)

Sources: Raccoons Pass Famous Intelligence Test-By Upending It

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 18, 2018

Location: Cape Canaveral, Jetty Park

I am an immature Laughing Gull
My wings are brown so you know I am not an adult.
If you are trying to learn about gulls
Sibley Guide to Birds is the book to consult.

(While I frequently cite Cornell Lab or Audubon as sources here online, it is Sibley that I use  in the field and always recommend to new birders.)

Sources: Cornell Lab All About Birds - Laughing Gull

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, May 17, 2018

May 17, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

I am an immature Loggerhead Shrike
I mostly look like my mom and dad.
Except that my chest is lightly barred,
And I'm more brownish - but just a tad.

Sources: Cornell Lab All About Birds - Loggerhead Shrike

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 16, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is Befaria racemosa
Also known as Tar flower or Flyweed.
Despite getting caught on its sticky flowers,
This plant attracts both flies bees.

Sources: Florida Native Plant Society - Befaria racemosa

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 15, 2018

Location: Cape Canaveral, Jetty Park

We're a mom and fledgling European Starling
We're invasive and considered as pests.
We are a threat to global biodiversity
You can help by making it harder for us to nest.

Sources: Cornell Lab Nestwatch - Managing House Sparrows and European Starlings

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, May 14, 2018

May 14, 2018

Location: Cape Canaveral, Jetty Park

I'm known as a Fish Crow
You can tell I'm not an American Crow by my voice.
Ask me if I'm an American Crow -
I'll say "Uh-uh" when given the choice.

Sources: Audubon Guide to North American Birds - Fish Crow (scroll to bottom and click on "two-note call"

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is a Pignut Hickory catkin
Pignut Hickory is a monoecious tree.
The female flowers are short clusters at the end of a branch,
The male flowers (shown here) are long and yellow-green.

(Happy Mother's Day to all of the mom's reading this. Here's a great article that shows how awesome insect moms are.

Sources: Virginia Tech Dendrology - Pignut Hickory

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, May 12, 2018

May 12, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is a Green (Carolina) Anole,
Although he looks blue, not green,
The skull shape says he's not a Cuban Anole,
But the blue? Strangest thing that I've seen.

This critter's not amongst the living,
In fact, he's a bit dead and desiccated.
The yellow has decayed from the green pigment,
Read Anole Annals to become educated.

(One of my favorite things about writing this blog is discovering new sources of information. I have used Anole Annals as a resource in the past. When I found this dead blue anole, I was curious as to why he was blue. Thanks so much to Jonathan Losos from Anole Annals for letting me post my question about this anole on his blog.)

Sources: Anole Annals

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is an epiphyte bromeliad
That's far too big to grow on Wild Coffee,
Air plants cling to their hosts for support,
But in this case, it's a bit too heavy.

Sources: University of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program - Bromiliads

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, May 10, 2018

May 10, 2018

Location: Vero Beach, Memorial Island

I'm known as a Mourning Dove
I used to be called a Carolina Pigeon
I haven't changed much throughout the years,
Twas only my name that got a revision.

Sources: John J. Audubon's Birds of America - Carolina Pigeon

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson