Audubon Florida News

Topic: Corkscrew Swamp,FL Special Places,Videos

Florida’s Special Places: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on December 13, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp,FL Special Places,Videos

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – The Heart of the Western Everglades

Have You Had a “Big Week” in Florida?

Florida’s unique natural environment and world-class birding sites are getting some additional attention this week as Audubon’s Dr. Paul Gray and our own Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary were featured in an article in the Miami Herald about the impact of the film The Big Year as well as the science behind what makes Florida such a premiere birding hotspot. Also included in this article is a birder’s dream week-long trip through some of Florida’s Special Places, including Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and St. George Island State Park.

From The Herald:

“We think the neo-tropical migrants crossing the Gulf of Mexico each year — things like warblers, orioles, flycatchers, cuckoos, shorebirds, etc. — may have only half the numbers they did 50 years ago,” said Paul N. Gray, science coordinator with Audubon of Florida.

“The Dusky [Seaside Sparrow] was a Florida specialty that was lost just in 1987. The last Carolina Parakeets were seen in Florida, with reports continuing until the 1930s. And the infamous Ivory-billed Woodpecker probably is extinct.

“But amongst the bad news, there still are many great birds that are doing fine, and Florida is a unique place to see specialties.”

Follow along as the Miami Herald describes some of the best-known birding spots across our beautiful and varied state. How many of them have you visited and which ones were your favorite and/or most productive? Tell us about your “Big Week” in Florida in the comments section below or on Facebook!

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Critter of the Week: Black Racer Snake (Coluber constrictor)

posted on September 27, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp,Wildlife

Allyson Webb, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Resource Manager at Panther Island just east of Naples, submits this column about her adventures as a land conservation manager in a truly special part of Florida. Panther Island is newly acquired parcel of the 13,000+ acres of land managed by our amazing and dedicated staff at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Please enjoy this critter of the week update from Allyson and learn more about Audubon’s conservation work in the Western Everglades:

One of the most common snakes I see on Panther Island is the black racer (Coluber constrictor). There are numerous subspecies of this snake throughout the eastern United States. These guys can get pretty long (up to 60 in). They typically have some white under the chin and will be smooth scaled and have large eyes. There is quite a bit of variation within the species though, and they can be mistaken for other species of larger snakes in the area. Behavior is a great way to identify this snake. Most snakes will freeze, but these guys will often “race” away when they feel threatened; but don’t be fooled, when cornered they will stand their ground and attempt to strike. Young racers do not look like adults; instead they are often tan or greyish with a series of brown or reddish blotches that run down the middle of their backs. And their eyes are typically larger and bodies more slender than most young snakes. Once about 12 inches they will lose their juvenile coloring.

Black racers can be found in a variety of habitats.They are opportunistic predators; in Florida, they feed on frogs, lizards, and other snakes (along with rodents, birds, eggs, etc). I found the snake in the photo to the left by following the sound of it rapidly moving its tail in the leaf litter! I thought I was on the trail of a rattlesnake when I saw this racer consuming another snake. They are not constrictors; instead they bite their prey and hold them down against the ground until it stops moving, and then prey is consumed while alive. While primarily terrestrial, as seen in the top photo, they are quite adept at climbing vegetation. Breeding occurs from March through June. Females will lay 6-20 eggs during the summer (May through August), and the newborns are a mere 6-9 inches long.

The photo to the left was taken on the fringe of a cypress forest (using a telephoto lens). This black racer is getting ready to shed (a process known as ecdysis)! Note its opaque eye…sign of shedding. This milky coloring is actually the result of the eye cap (a specially adapted scale that covers the eye) being loosened up in order to be shed along with the rest of the skin.

The Blair Center at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is open to the public 365 days a year. Plan your visit here. This article was cross-posted from Allyson’s Panther Island Adventures blog. Thanks Allyson!


Sign-up to Receive the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary eNewsletter!

posted on July 27, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp

Baby Gators by RJ WileyAudubon of Florida and the staff of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are proud to announce the release of The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary eNewsletter!

Sign-up today to be sure you are on the list to receive the first edition of this free monthly newsletter. By adding your name to the mailing list, you will receive regular updates on all things Corkscrew – species information, current events, contests, a volunteer spotlight and local Everglades news. Stay in-the-know about our gem in the Western Everglades – click here to ensure that you will receive this exciting new publication!

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Goes Solar

posted on January 31, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp,Gulf Oil Spill,Renewables

Audubon Blair Center at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary by RJ WileyOver the weekend, Audubon of Florida was proud to announce that their own Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida has completed installation of Solar Panels on the roof of the Blair Center. With a generous donation from REC Solar, who donated the panels and installation work, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary will now save around 400 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution from entering the atmosphere every two weeks.

Audubon Director David Yarnold Announces the Solar Panels by RJ WileyThe donation was a response to Audubon’s efforts to save Brown Pelicans in the wake of the BP Oil Disaster of 2010. The panels will go a long way in helping prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere and will be a great tool to teach visitors about the benefits of renewable energy and conservation. National Audubon Society President David Yarnold was on hand for the official unveiling.

Solar Panel Savings by RJ WileyCongratulations to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and REC Solar who made this momentous day a reality! Thank you!

Corkscrew Swamp: Winter cold fronts put small dent in South Florida’s non-native fish population

posted on January 26, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp,Invasive Species

Even our pristine Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary isn’t immune to the influx of non-native fishes that have moved into South Florida in recent decades. Currently, Southwest Florida is home to at least 17 species of non-native freshwater fishes. Most of these species have entered Florida as aquarium pets, while others were brought here to farm as exotic delicacies.

Often released (either accidentally or intentionally) into neighborhood canals or ponds, the localized flooding we experience during heavy summer rains coupled with South Florida’s extensive canal system allow these opportunistic fish to move long distances relatively easily. Our interconnected waterways have allowed (and continue to allow) non-native fish to reach Southwest Florida from the large port cities north and east of us. Unfortunately, Tampa and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale are currently home to at least 23 additional non-native freshwater species that, in time, can potentially move into our area.

The non-native fish species that do especially well here are from tropical areas of Asia, Africa and Central and South America. These species (many of which are from the family of ‘cichlids’) are so well-adapted to our harsh aquatic environment that studies have shown some of them are better able to survive our dry-season, low oxygen conditions than our native fishes. Many of the non-natives are also larger and notably more aggressive than our native fishes. Studies conducted by Audubon biologists and others have shown marked decreases in native fish populations as non-native fish spread.

The proverbial chink in their armor, however, appears to be our winter cold spells. In addition to the manatees and snook that made news headlines, the record-breaking cold temperatures we experienced last January were responsible for killing a disproportionate number of non-native freshwater fish. In fact, Audubon’s monitoring efforts in Big Cypress National Preserve have noted a marked absence of non-native fishes at several study sites since the January 2010 cold snap. Unfortunately, scientists anticipate the non-native fish population will quickly recover – perhaps even evolving more cold tolerance through time.

Because there are currently no effective methods of controlling the spread of non-native fishes once they become established, our native ecosystem is relying on us to stop the introduction and spread of these, and all non-native animals. As we learn from the consequences of Burmese pythons in the Everglades and Nile monitor lizards in Cape Coral, the importance of responsible pet ownership has never been more apparent here in Southwest Florida.

Article by Dr. Shawn Liston.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s “Feathers and Friends” Gala 2011

posted on January 7, 2011 in Corkscrew Swamp

Support your swamp! Please join Collier County Audubon Society and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at their 2011 “Feathers and Friends” Gala. The event will be held on Thursday, February 10th at 6pm – $125 per person – at the Hilton Hotel in Naples. This year’s featured guest speaker is author Randy Wayne White. For a biography of the author and details on how you can attend this unique event, please download our invitation here. You can also learn more about this event at and We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Crayfish Thrive at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on October 27, 2010 in Corkscrew Swamp,Media


In an article in the Naples News, Shawn Liston at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary writes about the importance of Crayfish in measuring success of Everglades restoration:

South Florida wetlands are home to two different crayfish species that look remarkably similar, and their presence or absence provides information about wetland types. “Everglades crayfish” are found primarily in short-hydroperiod wetlands (wetlands that dry for several months each year) while “slough crayfish” are found primarily in long hydroperiod wetlands (wetlands that remain wet for most of the year). Biologists can learn a lot about wetland hydrology from crayfish, and they serve as important indicators of wetland health and the success of Everglades restoration projects.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Pictures

posted on October 26, 2010 in Corkscrew Swamp,Videos

Check out this wonderful slide-show of Audubon’s own Corkscrew Swamp Sancutary by Rod Wiley.  Truly one of Florida’s special places.

Bird Day at Fairchild Tropical Gardens

posted on October 1, 2010 in Corkscrew Swamp,Events

Ed Carlson, Executive Director of Audubon of Florida’s amazing Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary will be presenting at this years Bird Day at the Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami.  He is scheduled to speak at 11am on this Sunday, October 3rd.

For a full itinerary of events, please click here.  Hope you can make it!

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