Showing posts from June, 2013

A Bird Garden and a Challenge

By Peg Lindsay My husband and I are birders. People frequently stop us and ecstatically tell us about such-and-such a bird they saw at their feeders, or describe a bird and ask us to help identify it. When my neighbor had Mourning Doves nesting in her trellis, I thrilled at peeking at the baby doves and watching them change and grow. I get excited when I see the first “snowbird” blue-gray gnatcatcher return from its summer home up north. I feel joy when I hear the bugling call of sandhill cranes and proud when I see tiny chicks begin to toddle after their parents. My love affair with birds runs deep, to say the least. That said, it makes sense that I jumped to volunteer at the Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve (P.E.A.R.) Park Bird Garden. I had planned to write this article about all of the plants it contains, some of which are more bird-friendly than others. The species (listed at the bottom of this article) were selected for very particular attributes, includi

Post Conference Get-Together

Well, we had a great time at the conference didn't we? Barbara Jackson, the conference chair, did a magnificent job and *things* went off without a single hitch. Yay!  The last conference event was a "Thanks to our volunteers party" at Jim Draper's art studio in Jacksonville. There were great refreshments; we looked at the FNPS Flickr photos of the conference and past conferences (Click the link to see them yourself.); and we enjoyed the ambiance of the art studio. Artist Jim Draper on the right was a keynote speaker at the conference and he offered his art studio for the post-conference party. Barbara Jackson (in the green shirt) was the conference chair. She's way more relaxed now! Laurie Sheldon (in the red dress) is the FNPS social media chair.  Doesn't she do a great job? Art on the wall includes native orchids and sundews as seen on a recent field trip. Drawers full other more art. We've blogged about the 2013 conference s

Attracting and Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators, Part 3

By Laurie Sheldon For the beginning portions of of this blog, please refer to Native Pollinators, Part 1 and Part 2 Now that we've covered why pollinators are important, what pollination is, who the major players are, and what their lifestyles are like, we can comfortably move on to the last portion of this blog, in which we'll learn how to turn your home landscape (or a portion of it) into a pollinator-friendly habitat. What is a habitat? It is the area in which an organism lives. It consists of both abiotic factors (sunlight, temperature, moisture - physical conditions) and biotic elements (other living organisms - plants, people and predators alike). It follows that, in order for you to create a habitat that can sustain a population of pollinators, you must first take into consideration your site's existing abiotic and biotic attributes. Which spots get the most sun? Are there any damp, shady areas? Is the climate tropical, subtropical or temperate? These i

Attracting and Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators, Part 2

By Laurie Sheldon For the beginning portion of of this blog, please refer to the following link: Native Pollinators, Part 1 Creating habitat for pollinators means much more than knowing which color flowers a given insect is attracted to. It involves knowing the life span and understanding the forage and shelter needs of each individual pollinator at various stages of life. For that reason, I'll begin part two of this blog with a bit more detail about the life cycles of Florida's most important pollinators. Pollinator Life Cycles Although bats and birds CAN pollinate flowers, the majority of the world’s pollinators are insects. We can divide these insects into 4 major groups: bees and wasps, flies, butterflies and moths, and beetles. They all go through the same basic life cycle: egg to larva to pupa to winged adult. Where the eggs are laid, larva mobility, what they eat during their life stages, and duration of each stage is highly variable. Bee: Eggs in protected bro

Attracting and Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators, Part 1

By Laurie Sheldon Like juicy strawberries? Thank a pollinator. Why Care? Aside from the fact that it's National Pollinator Week, why should you care about pollinators? Assuming that you are probably human if you are reading this, you personally benefit from pollinators in at least three ways. The first of these is physical (corporeal if you want to be really specific). You and I (I'm a human as well) eat and drink to maintain our own energy, maybe for other reasons, but let's stick to the perfunctory stuff. The presence of a pollinator was necessary to create at least one out of every three mouthfuls of food and drink you take. The second reason you should care about pollinators is financial . Insect-pollinated plants bring in 25 BILLION dollars each year. Those figures double when we include indirect products like milk and beef from cattle that fed on alfalfa, oil crops (sunflower and canola) which can be used as biofuel, and fibers like flax and cotton... "th

Stop. Hammer Time!

By Laurie Sheldon The Man, the Myth, the Legend Knowledgeable, respected, boyish and charming, he sported a tropical short-sleeved shirt, pulled his long hair into a ponytail at the nape of his neck, and delivered the opening presentation on day two of the 33rd Annual F.N.P.S. Conference, held in Jacksonville this past May. His name is Roger Hammer, and he's got swagger. He began by admitting to being pleasantly surprised with his second visit to the area; the conditions under which he'd previously been in our neck of the woods were undeniably less favorable. Then twenty-something, he'd been out surfing in his hometown of Cocoa Beach when his mother flagged him down. "You have a letter from the President," she exclaimed, obviously very excited to have her son tear it open. It was a draft card, and off to Jax he went. He moved to Homestead after serving and became a naturalist with the Miami-Dade Parks Department, where, among other things, he encouraged a gener