HALIFAX RIVER AUDUBON
A Florida Chapter of the National Audubon Society
Serving greater Daytona Beach area
Founded 1923

 

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Special interest groups are urging Florida legislators to use Amendment 1 dollars to fund water supply development projects that could further deplete our water resources, to bail out developments that have neglected their own wastewater infrastructure needs and to push projects that fuel irresponsible growth in Florida's vulnerable natural areas.  If you haven't already done so, please email the Senate Committee on Eveniornmental Preservation and Conservation.
 

March 1, 2015:  It's nearly spring, but the weather is still cool-ish and damp.  Many of our winter visitors remain for a few more weeks before heading off for northern breeding grounds.  White Pelicans and Laughing Gulls are two species in this category.  Walt Steiner took this photo along the northern end of "The Loop" on Walter Boardman Lane. 

Noting the size of the White Pelicans, it is difficult to imagine how they get off the ground.  But they are spectacular fliers, soaring very high in the sky and sometimes performing choreographed circles and swoops as a flock.  They are immense birds with a wingspan of approximately 9 feet, weighing over 16 pounds.  The birds are all white, with black feathers along the entire trailing edge of the wing.  Unlike the coastal Brown Pelican, American White Pelicans are found far inland, feeding cooperatively in shallow lakes.  They do not dive for fish like the Brown Pelican but swim on the surface, dipping their bills into the water to scoop up small fish, salamanders and crayfish.

Laughing Gulls are seen throughout the year along the coast of Florida.  The loud and long "ha-ha-ha-ha" call of this well-named gull is one of the most characteristic sounds of the seashore.  Northern birds head south during the winter, adding their numbers to the year-round birds found in Volusia County.  They are medium-sized gulls, about 16 inches from bill to tail with 40-inch wingspans.  They weight about 11 ounces.  Adult birds have an all black head, dark gray backs and black wing-tips with small white spots (mirrors).  Their long wing tips project beyond their all-white tails when standing.  In the winter, adults show limited gray streaking on the back of the head (as seen in the photo above), but the white eye arcs are visible in all plumages -- even the dusky brown of juveniles and the mottled gray and brown of the first-year birds.  Laughing Gulls take 2-3 years to attain full adult plumage.  Laughing Gulls eat almost anything, including a sandwich left unattended by an unsuspecting beach goer.  They hunt for food, steal it from each other or raid garbage cans and discards from fishing boats and fishermen.  They are a coastal species but are also found very far inland at land fills, plowed fields and parking lots -- almost anywhere they can snag a free meal.

Share the beach w/nesting birds; tips from Nat'l Aud. How to remove fishing line from a hooked bird
For deeply embedded or swallowed hooks, or injuries to wings and legs call:
Marine Science Center(386) 304-5530, After Hours 386-561-0624

Tips for Better Wildlife Photography

Protect Florida's Forage Fish

Volunteer to restore oyster beds Report Invasive Species via Audubon Smartphone App

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