The Audubon Observer, August 2019


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To help you create bird friendly habitat in your landscape, we will be sharing a native plant every month that is beneficial to birds and pollinators.

This month's plant is:

Firebush (Hamelia patens):

Firebush IMG 20171105 113601Firebush is a native Florida plant and is superb for your yard as it is a major nectar producing plant attracting hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies with its beautiful orange-yellow tubular flowers. The flowers are in full bloom during the summer months and as the weather cools, they will decrease. It produces small reddish berries which ripen to a blackish purple and attract birds in the fall, including mockingbirds, cardinals, and other songbirds.

Firebush can reach a height of 10-15 feet and will grow in sun or part shade, and in damp or dry soil. It is heat and drought tolerant once established. Cold weather may kill it back to the ground, but it will regrow quickly. If you have a more formal garden, you can also prune it to maintain a desired shape and height. You may grow Firebush either from cuttings or from seed. Please note that the firebush plants sold in the big box stores are NOT the native variety which we recommend that you use.

For additional information on native plants for birds, check out Audubon's excellent Plants for Birds website:

For local sources of native plants, check with the Ixia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant SocietyThey often have native plants as well as cuttings available at their monthly meetings. They are on summer break right now, but in September will resume their meetings on the first Tuesday of each month. Check out their Events Calendar for all of their upcoming activities.

--Jody Willis, President, Duval Audubon Society


St. Augustine Road Fish Management Area is the site of two fishing lakes operated jointly by the City of Jacksonville and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). It is a hidden gem for nature lovers, and one of our chapter's favorite birding spots, as it is an eBird Hot Spot where 90 different species of birds have been reported!

FWC staffers and volunteers work to clear the surface of the north lakeRecently, Duval Audubon Society board member and Duval County Conservation Chair Carolyn Antman noticed that the north lake was clogged with an overgrowth of aquatic plants covering the entire surface of the lake. FWC scientists tested the water quality in the lake and found that oxygen levels were very low, which could lead to fish kills and a reduction in the lake's ability to support the wildlife we love.

A lake in need of rescue!

This week FWC staffers Trevor Phillips, Will Prevatt, Mike Ricketts, and Shalyn Zappulla led a small team of volunteers in an effort to clear the overgrowth of floating water fern vegetation on the surface of the lake.

Carolyn reports: "FWC had a boat and a big net. They circled around and got a net full of weed then hauled it to the bank where they dragged it up with a winch on a truck. They repeated this (slow) process many times."

After two days of backbreaking work, the result is that about half of the surface of the lake has been cleared, so although great progress was made, more work will undoubtedly be needed to keep this lake healthy.

Volunteer Daniel McDanielWe are so grateful for the hard work of the FWC staffers as well as the volunteers who came out to help, including Carolyn Antman, Vincent Jaso, Brian Defina, and Dennis Thompson.

And a special thanks to volunteer Daniel McDaniel (left), who "adopted" this park some time ago, clearing trails and building a sturdy bridge to enhance accessability to this lovely natural area. We are so grateful for your dedication to this beautiful place!


eagles 7668 rjwiley 2 0Audubon EagleWatch, one of Audubon's premier community science programs, deploys boots on the ground and eyes in the field to monitor and protect Florida's eagles. With over 1,500 nesting pairs in our state, this team of volunteers spans 42 counties monitoring more than 600 nests.  

Audubon EagleWatchers collect important data on nesting eagles in Florida including productivity,  active nest locations and possible disturbances or threats to nesting activities.The program engages volunteers and individuals to help protect our nation's symbol.

If you would like to become an "EagleWatcher" with Audubon's EagleWatch program, register to attend the upcoming training session, scheduled for 10 am - noon, Saturday, September 21, 2019 @ Deerwood Country Club, 10239 Golf Club Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32256.

Registration is required! Register at:

Questions? Call (407) 644-0190, ext. 118 or email


We are celebrating our 80th anniversary in 2019 (happy anniversary to us!), and we have a great lineup of programs and field trips planned for our 2019/2020 season.

This year we're hosting field trips at some of our favorite local spots like Reddie Point Preserve, Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Kingsley Plantation, and Little Talbot Island State Park, as well as some excellent birding spots that are a little further away, like Bayard Conservation Area in Green Cove Springs, Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville, and Lake Woodruff NWR near DeLeon Springs. In addition, we're partnering with St. Johns County Audubon Society to co-host field trips at Vaill Point Park in St. Augustine, and, a first for us, Masters Tract Stormwater Treatment Facility in Hastings. If you haven't birded at Masters Tract, you don't know what you're missing!

We are also continuing our popular Bird Walks for Beginners on the first Sunday of every month at Fort Caroline National Memorial, and our Bird Walk and Work Days on the fourth Saturday of every month at our Crosby Sanctuary conservation property in Orange Park. And don't miss our "Birding on the Water" kayaking trip with Kayak Amelia in March!

Upcoming programs include presentations from Gina Kent of ARCI (Avian Research and Conservation Institute) about her work with Swallow-tailed Kites; Dr. Caroline Efstathion of APEC (Avian Preservation and Education Conservancy) about her work with endangered tropical parrots; and expert Florida bird guide David Simpson about birding in the Dry Tortugas. These are just a few of the fascinating programs we have in store for you this year!

And speaking of programs, starting with our September 16, 2019 program, our monthly program meetings will be held at Lakewood Presbyterian Church, 2001 University Blvd W, Jacksonville, FL.

Program meetings are held on the third Monday of each month, and start with refreshments and networking at 6:30 pm, with program presentations beginning at 7 pm.

If you are an Audubon member in Clay, Duval, or Nassau counties, look for our programs and events flyer in your mailbox in late August, and of course we will have all of our activities posted on our website, Facebook, and Meetup pages as well.

Please join us and "connect with nature" - all are welcome!

Duval Audubon Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 16304
Jacksonville, FL 32245

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