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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

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May 9, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Riverwalk

I'm am a little Marsh Rabbit
Gnoshing on Alligator Weed.
It is an invasive exotic in Florida
But it sure tastes yummy to me.

Sources: UF|IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants - Alligator Weed

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 8, 2018

Location: Vero Beach, Memorial Island

I am a Yellow-crowned Night Heron,
There is a Black-crowned who looks like me
My legs are longer, and my crown's yellowish
But we're both greyish blue with thick beaks,

Sources: Cornell All About Birds - Yellow-crowned Night Heron vs. Black-crowned Night Heron Comparison

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Monday, May 7, 2018

May 7, 2018

Location: Cocoa Beach, Lori Wilson Park

This is a Mimosa strigillosa
Also known as a Powderpuff,
If you touch its leaves they will curl,
It's a sensitive plant, but fairly tough.

Sources: UF|IFAS Gardening Solutions - Powderpuff Mimosa

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Sunday, May 6, 2018

May 6, 2018

Location: Sebastian Riverwalk

I'm a female Red-breasted Merganser
I come to Florida in the winter time.
But over the years, my numbers here
Have been on the decline.

Dee and David count birds every winter
You might think that's kind of strange
But the data collected is vitally important
And clearly shows the impact of climate change.

Today is my birthday. As your gift to me, please:

  • Click the link below to see the animated map that is created using the reams of data we (and thousands of other citizen scientists) have collected over decades. 
  • Sign up for an annual Christmas Bird Count to help us keep this vital data collection going. You don't have to be a bird expert, we always need drivers, spotters, note takers, photographers, and post-count dinner help. Contact me or David for details on Brevard and Indian River county counts, or contact your local Audubon Society for this year's count dates. 
  • Share a link to my blog with a friend who might not be familiar with the flora and fauna of Florida - knowledge is power!
Sources: Climate Endangered Red-breasted Merganser

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Saturday, May 5, 2018

May 5, 2018

Location: Sebastian, Publix parking lot

I am a Crested Caracara,
I wear an ill-fitting black toupee.
I have a bi-colored beak, and big talon feet.
And I am a listed as threatened bird of prey.

Sources: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Audubons crested caracara

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Friday, May 4, 2018

May 4, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is Virginia Creeper
It looks a little like Poison Ivy.
But it's a great plant for bird lovers, it's not poisonous,
And it's leaves are in groups of fivey.

Ok, I know that's a terrible rhyme,
This is a great plant on cold winter days,
It's fruit's known to attract many species of birds,
Such as Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Jays.

Sources: 10 Plants for a Bird-Friendly Yard

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is known as Poison Ivy
It has groups of three leaves and the stem is red.
Once touched you can spread this plant's oil,
But it's a myth that the rash itself can be spread.

If you come in contact, wash immediately,
Both your clothes and skin to avoid spreading the rash.
Then do not scratch the angry red blisters,
Instead take a colloidal oatmeal bath.

Sources: Treating poison ivy: Ease the itch with tips from dermatologists

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May 2, 2018

Location: Sebastain, Riverview Park parking lot

I am now an adult Killdeer
But I was precocial when I was born1.
That means I had feathers and I could see
Unlike altricial chicks who are not fully formed.

1 Like all birds, Killdeer are hatched from eggs. They stay in the eggs about 2 weeks longer than altricial birds which gives the  feathers and eyes more time to fully develop. But "hatched" and "developed" don't rhyme, so I used artistic license and said "born". But you know what I meant.

Sources:


Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May 1, 2018

Location: Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay

This is known as Love Vine.
It’s a parasite that grows on a host
Although it produces its own chlorophyll,
It steals other nutrients it can’t produce on it’s own.

Although it can be invasive,
In a strange twist of irony,
When combined with a moth, it can be used
To control Brazilian Pepper trees.

(Special thanks to Carol Hebert for her help identifying this plant.)

Sources: Wild South Florida - Naturally Wild - Love Vine

Photo and text © 2018 Dee Fairbanks Simpson