Birds, Beavers and Plants April/May 2017




Audubon Observer

an e-publication of Duval Audubon Society

 serving Clay, Duval and Nassau counties

    April/May 2017    

Busy Beavers at Crosby Sanctuary in Orange Park

You may be surprised to learn that there are beavers in northeast Florida! North American beavers have taken up residence at Duval Audubon Society’s Crosby Sanctuary in Orange Park, and this time of year they are actively building dams.

The southernmost portion of the Crosby property is a swamp that ultimately drains into the Ortega River. Access to the sanctuary is provided by an earthen dike access road that bisects the swamp, and some years ago, two large trenches were dug through the access road to permit drainage between the two sides of the swamp. The beavers are damming up those trenches, creating a major backup of water flow from the west side of the swamp. The photo below shows a large pool created by beaver dams all along the line of trees with just a tiny trickle of water flow on the right.

Volunteer work crews busted all of those dams back in February and within days the beavers had built up the dams again. The real risk is the potential of flooding in the neighborhoods that adjoin the property, especially if there is a major rainfall event, so sanctuary manager Pete Johnson did some research and came up with a way that we hope will leave the dams largely intact but still permit water flow between the two sides.

At the March 25th Crosby Sanctuary work day, the crew installed pipes underneath the dams and rebuilt the dams over them. We are optimistic that the water flowing through the pipes under the dam will provide enough drainage through the swamp to prevent flooding, but if this doesn’t work, it’s back to the drawing board, because our goal is to find a way to peacefully coexist with these fascinating creatures

Pipe Installation

Access to Crosby Sanctuary is currently by appointment only, but our ultimate goal is to open this beautiful place to the public. If you would like a tour of Crosby Sanctuary please contact Crosby Sanctuary manager Pete Johnson at or vice-president Carolyn Antman at

April's Program, April 17, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

Leeched, Bitten, and Poisoned:International Adventures in Butterfly Photography Speaker: Bill Berthet, Butterfly Photographer

Have you ever wondered what a typical day in the field is like for a butterfly photographer? Dog bites, getting chased by a Brahma Bull or photographing butterflies next to fields of Coca in Bolivia are all part of the job documenting sightings of Neotropical butterflies. Come hear how this field photographer goes about finding the right habitats, using bait to attract butterflies and how he and the team identify photos and share in the excitement of finding a new or poorly known genus, species or subspecies.

Mr. Berthet will talk about photographing a bilateral gynandromorph - the “Holy Grail” of butterfly photography and his experience photographing butterflies from 20 ft. to over 15,500 ft. in elevation. He will cover parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia including some culture and stories. Of course, when searching for butterflies in the field, birds are encountered, so he will have photos of such specialties as Marvelous Spatuletail and Andean Cock of the Rock.

Location Swaim Memorial United Methodist Church, 1620 Naldo Ave., Jacksonville, FL.
Birds sick and dying on our local beaches
Troubling reports of sick and dying shorebirds have been coming in. Brown Pelicans and other seabirds are exhibiting some kind of disorientation where the birds show a full crop and blood drubbing from the beak. Biologists are recommending not to handle the birds. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suspects that something in the ocean is making the birds ill. Our local television station reported on this a few days ago. Biologists scrambling to find out why local birds are dying
If you see a sick or dead bird, call the FWC hotline at 888-404-3922.


Native Plants for Bird-friendly Gardening

You know the saying "if you plant it, the birds will come"? We are frequently asked what plants you should use in your yards or container gardens. The best answer, of course, is to go native. Our March program dealt with this very issue. Now National Audubon has a handy native plant database you can use to select bird-friendly plants for your particular area. Just enter your zip code to see plant suggestions including the birds that find the plant attractive. Even if you have a small space, every bit of habitat we can provide is important. You can check it out at Audubon Native Plant database

Birds and Breakfast Annual Picnic, May 20, 2017

Don't forget to mark your calendars for our annual picnic. We'll meet at the Arlington Lions Club Park, 4322-1 Richard Denby Gatlin Road in Jacksonville at 8 a.m. Please bring a dish to share. Coffee and paper products will be provided. Afterwards, we will have a short meeting to induct our officers and directors. Then at 9 a.m. we'll bird the park including Blue Cypress and Reddie Point. These parks are usually great places to see migrating birds. Free and open to the public.

April/May Field Trips

This is the time of year when we say farewell to some of our wintering species and welcome others back for the summer. It's also a fabulous time to get out and experience spring migration. We hope to see you at some of our April and May field trips.

April 8 a.m. Vaill Point Park Leader: Carol Bailey-White (904-707-1881)
April 9, 8 a.m. Julington-Durbin Preserve Leader: Pete Johnson (904-536-4806)
April 15, 8 a.m. Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Gainesville $ Leader: Deborah Kainauskas (904-254-0148)
April 22, 8 a.m. Crosby Sanctuary Walk & Work Day Leader: Pete Johnson (904-536-4806)
April 29 8 a.m. Jennings State Forest Leader: Martha Fethe (904-699-8453)
April 30 8 a.m. UNF Nature Trails Leader: Deborah Kainauskas (904-254-0148)
May 5-7, Kissimmee Prairie Camping Weekend $: Judy Jeffas (904-612-7036)
May 13, 8 a.m. Spoonbill Pond  Leader: Kevin Dailey (
May 20, 8 a.m. Birds & Breakfast Annual Picnic 9 a.m. birding Contact: Carol Bailey-White (904-707-1881)
May 21 8 a.m. Huguenot Memorial Park $ Leaders: Joan & Richard Becker (516-359-6838)
May 27 8 a.m. Crosby Sanctuary Bird walk and work day Pete Johnson (904-536-4806)

For details on these activities, check our web site calendar at, or Facebook.

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