Natural Resources

Union County Extension Office provides University of Florida IFAS research-based information in fish pond management, wildlife management, invasive species (both on land in the water).   Natural resources encompass the broad spectrum of components we often take for granted, until they disappear under urban development.  Green space, natural species habitat enhancement, clean air, and clean water can be managed using science-based principles.  The Union County Extension Office extends natural resources information through educational workshops open to all county residents, as well as through the Homestead & Farm newsletter, newspaper articles, farm, and homestead visits.

Wildlife Happenings in January

Nesting activity begins for Ospreys, Sandhill Cranes, Herons, Egrets and Black Vultures
Deer reach the peak of the rutting season in North Florida
Gray Foxes, Bobcats, and Raccoons begin courtship and breeding this month
Look for Red-railed Hawks perched in trees and on billboards along interstates
Huge clouds of Tree Swallows should be visible around sunset roosting over large marsh areas
Cedar Waxwings and Robins are eating fruits such as holly berries
Male Cardinals begin territorial singing later in the month
Put your old Christmas tree to good use: Start a brush pile near your bird feeder, it provides good year-round cover for birds, and stays out of your county landfill

 

February

Purple martins scouts look over North Florida nesting sites, make sure houses are up
Trilliums and dogtooth violets bloom in Panhandle ravines courtship
Clean and repair eastern bluebird nest boxes
Greater sandhill cranes migrate from Florida northward to Michigan and Wisconsin
Purple finches and pink siskins will leave our North Florida feeders and begin their migration back to northern nesting areas
Leatherback sea turtles begin nesting on sandy beaches
Bald cypress trees leaf out Big Cyprus Swamp
Nesting season begins for ospreys in North Florida
Wood storks nesting in Corkscrew Swamp
Watch for manatees in spring runs
Snowy plovers start nesting
Sooty terns nesting in the Dry Tortugas
Wild turkeys and quail mate in South Florida
Magnificent frigate birds begin nesting in the Dry Tortugas
Woodcocks begin courtship behavior in North Florida
Woodpeckers begin courtship behavior in North Florida
Woodpeckers begin their mating season and announce territories by drumming on houses, telephone poles and other objects
Eastern moles are breeding this month in tunnels under our lawns
Pocket gophers begin their spring breeding season
First litters of gray squirrels are born
Striped skunks begin their breeding season
Bear cubs born in dens this month
Deer fawns born in South Florida
Schools of Spanish Mackeral roam Florida Bay
Black Crappie and striped bass are spawning
American crocodiles begin mating, followed by nesting in April

 

March

Frogs and toads move to ponds, streams and ditches to breed during rainy nights
Gulf of Mexico Sturgeon spawns in the Suwannee River during the spring
Largemouth bass spawn throughout Central Florida
Maybirds begin nesting
Snakes and other reptiles are more active and likely to be seen in yards and gardens
Mangrove Cuckoos return to the Keys
Summer Tanagers and Great-Crested Flycatchers arrive to breed
Swallow-Tailed Kites  return to South Florida wetlands
Hummingbirds return
Woodpeckers begin announcing their territories by drumming on loud objects
Liters of Raccoons, Bobcat, and Armadillos are being born
Last chance to see Manatee concentrations in various springs this winter
Purple Martins begin nesting

 

April

Sooty Turns take over Dry Tortugas for nesting
Bobwhite quail nest now through September
Migrant warblers concentrate on coasts after cold fronts
Watch for hummingbirds feeding on blooms of columbine, buckeye, and others
Grosbeaks, warblers, tanagers, orioles, and thrashers begin returning to North America
Black bears begin moving after winter's inactivity
Long-tailed weasels, minks, and river otters will be born April through May
Endangered Gray Bats return to Florida caves to raise young
Manatees move up the Wakulla and St. Marks rivers
Pine barrens tree frogs begin calling
Most Florida snakes begin mating rituals
Beginning of Sea Turtle nesting season on Florida beaches
Alligators begin moving about, seeking new territories and mates
Largemouth Bass move into shallow water in Lake Talquin
The cobia migration is in full swing in the Panhandle
Plant extra parsley for black swallowtail butterfly larvae to eat

 

May

Least terns and snowy plovers nest on beaches and flat rooftops
The last of the cedar waxwings and goldfinches head for their northern breeding grounds
Painted buntings nest through summer in Northeast Florida
Brown pelican and white ibis young are now visible in nests
Courtship ritual of adult alligators begins, noted by the loud and resounding bellows and water slapping continues through June
Loggerhead and green sea turtles begin night time nesting on sandy beaches
Soft-shell and alligator snapping turtles complete egg laying
Gray bats congregate at maternity caves now through mid July
Bluegill begins to bed during full moon
Flathead catfish congregate below Jim Woodruff Dam, Apalachicola River
Peak flight month for Schaus' Swallowtail butterfly in the Keys

 

June

Gopher tortoises are breeding
Red bats and Seminole bats are being born
Southern flying squirrels
Cicadas emerge from a 17 year growth period in the ground as adults begin the song of summer and complete their life cycle
Breeding season for least Terns, Oystercatchers, and Black Skimmers at the seashore
On June 1, 1952, the first Cattle Egrets were sighted in Florida
June 14, 1969, is the last recorded sighting of Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Florida

 

July

Shorebird migration starts in mid-July, peaking in August
Swallow-tailed kites begin gathering as do purple martins and tree swallows in preparation for migrating south for the winter
Look for frigate birds flying overhead in south Florida
Look out for nesting shorebirds, and keep your vehicles and dogs from disturbing them
Later this month, young alligators and crocodiles will begin to hatch
Mosquitoes and chiggers are abundant, so watch out while you are camping
Baby raccoons, foxes, armadillos, possums, and bobcats leave dens and begin following parents
Deer mating season on the Everglades

 

August

Black bear cubs are weaning from their mothers
Purple martins and Tree swallows begin gathering to migrate south for the winter
Yellow Warbles migration begins
Gopher Tortoise and turtle eggs are hatching
Indigo snake and other snake eggs are hatching
Young sea turtles are hatching
Swallow-tailed Kites begin gathering in communal roosts before migrating

 

September

Hawk migration begins at St. Joseph Peninsula in Gulf County
Bald eagles return to nest sites and begin courtship
Deer breeding begins in South Florida Flatwoods
Atlantic Sturgeon begin fall migration from the Suwannee and Apalachicola Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico
Blue crabs migrate from the shallow panhandle coast to deeper water for the winter
Blue crab "jubilee" also begins along panhandle beaches

 

October

Look for migrating Peregrine falcons in natural areas, especially along the coast as they follow shorebird prey
Warbler migration peaks early this month
Monarch butterfly migration nears its peak along Florida's Gulf Coast
Sandhill cranes that nested in more northern latitudes move down to join our resident birds
Flatwoods Salamanders breed with the first rains of the month
Flying squirrels will be moving into pecan groves as the nuts ripen

 

November

Set up winter seed and suet feeders
Cedar waxwings come south for the winter
Their flocks can be seen on cedars, hollies, cherry laurels, privet and other fruit plants
Look for downy, hairy, red-bellied, and redheaded woodpeckers on suet feeders
Bald eagles begin their nesting season, look for spectacular aerial courtship displays
Sandhill cranes return in full force from their breeding grounds up north (only a few live here all year round)
Gray catbirds have already arrived, and will be skulling (and cat-calling)! in thickets
Kinglets, phoebes, robins, and other northern songbirds have arrived for the winter
Peak of deer rutting in central and north Florida
Bears are on the move and crossing roads, especially in Central Florida
As water temperatures lower, manatees begin to move to relatively warm waters at springs, boaters beware of idle speed zones
Look for migrating Hoary and Red bats in North Florida, Hoary is a large bat with frosted fur

 

December

Snail Kites gather in large south Florida roosts, and nesting activity begins
This usually is one of the best months to watch waterfowl on wetlands, lakes and prairies
Great Horned Owls and Barred Owls are courting
Look for Goldfinches in your bird feeders in North Florida
Bald Eagles start hatching near Christmas day in North Florida