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January 2007 Along the Boardwalk Newsletter Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

January 2007 Along the Boardwalk Newsletter Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

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Published by: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary on Jul 27, 2010
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Field guides say the immature Yel-low-crowned has smaller white spotson the upper wing, darker gray flightfeathers, a little longer neck, a morefinely streaked breast, and a slightlystouter bill.That worksif the two areroosting side byside so thosecomparisons
Boardwalk Along the Along theBoardwalk
 Swamp SanctuaryCorkscrew
www.corkscrew.audubon.orgJanuary, 2007
Quick ID Guide
How can you distinguish between immature Yellow-crownedNight Herons and immature Black-crowned Night Herons?
What do you say if…
…visitors complain that theyhave traveled a long way andhaven’t seen one alligator?
Acknowledge their disappointmentand explain why they may not haveseen any alligators: (1) the Sanctuaryis 12,000 acres and unlike a zoo, alli-gators can go anywhere they want,which is not necessarily where wewant; (2) in the summer and fall, waterlevels are high so the alligators are morespread out, and they stay in the waterto stay cool; (3) on cold winter morn-ings, water holds temperature betterthan air and the alligators stay underwater to stay warmer.Additionally, radio other volunteersto see if there are any gators visibleelsewhere.Try and show them some otherunique animals or plant life (have acommon plant in mind like a stranglerfig or resurrection fern so you are notdependent on trying to find anotheranimal that might not be there and dis-appointing him/her again).Lastly, refer them to Lake Traffordfor an airboat ride where there are hun-dreds of gators in a more confined area.We refer visitors to Lake Trafford be-cause they are sure to see a gator and itis part of Corkscrew’s watershed.In order for Wood Storks to have asuccessful nesting season, they mustnot only have a safe place for the nest-ing colony but they must have enoughaccessible feeding areas to support thecolony.Information about nesting at Cork-screw is documented, but not enoughis known about the areas where thestorks feed outside the sanctuary tomake accurate, informed decisionsabout protecting those essential areas.To address that situation, a programof satellite tracking began last year.
 
Asmall, cell phone-size transmitter is at-tached to the back of the stork betweenthe wings using a silicone strap harnesswhich loops beneath the wings andunder the belly. The birds preen thefeathers over the device effectively con-cealing it, except for a thin antennawhich remains protruding from thefeathers. Visible plastic leg bands arealso attached to each tagged stork.Five new satellite tags have beenpurchased to deploy on storks nestingat Corkscrew this year.Jason Lauritsen, leader of the track-ing project, said, “Hydrologic condi-tions cause me to believe they will nestbefore mid-January. If this occurs, Ihope to have a rocket-netting team inplace right away so we can track theirforaging movements.”Less than a dozen transmitters willbe in use, and while satellite trackingidentifies patterns and feeding areas, itis a very limited picture. Observationsof volunteers reporting feeding areas toJason will be essential to the overallsuccess of the preservation program.
 Storks wired for satellite tracking to preserve nesting colony feeding areas
Black-crownedNight HeronYellow-crownedNight Heron
can be made, but that situation rarelyoccurs in real life.Here’s the easier way. Look at thelower mandibles of the bills and think OPPOSITE COLOR OF THE NAME.The Yellow-crowned’s lowerbill is black.The Black-crowned’s lowerbill is yellow.
Photographs by Will Wellman
 
In Case a Visitor Asks December Sightings
Orange-crowned Warbler at the south lake(December 1).Painted Bunting near the feeder by the BuntingHouse (December 5).Common Grackle, aberrant coloration on tailfeathers, near Bunting House (December 18).
Why do Anhingas spread their wings?
The structure of Anhinga feathersdecreases buoyancy and facilitates un-derwater pursuit of fish. Hence, theirplumage is not water-repellent likeducks, but “wettable.”It was once suggested that the func-tions of the spread-wing posture wasto dry the wings after wetting. Biolo-gists thought that deficient productionof oils from the preen gland requiredthe wings to be dried.We now know that the degree of waterproofing of their feathers is pri-marily due to the microscopic structureof the feathers, and not to being oiled.Some birds do use a spread-wingposture for wing drying. Not Anhingas.
…and the answer is NOT that they need to dry them off 
Anhingas have unusually lowmetabolic rates and unusually high ratesof heat loss from their bodies. Whetherwet or dry, they exhibit spread-wingpostures mostly under conditions of bright sunlight and cool ambient tem-peratures, and they characteristicallyorient themselves with their backs tothe sun.Thus, it appears that Anhingasadopt a spread-wing posture primarilyfor thermoregulation – to absorb solarenergy to supplement their low meta-bolic heat production and to partly off-set their inordinately high rate of heatloss due to convection and (when wet)evaporation from their plumage.
Reference: The Birder’s Handbook, pp. 25-27
Christmas Bird Count
In spite of rain and overcast skies,41 volunteers were in the field for the107
th
Christmas Bird Count on Satur-day, December 16.Volunteers met in the Corkscrewparking lot between 6:15 and 7:30
AM
where they divided into small groups.Most of the groups completed theircounts by 5:00
PM
.The territories counted in the Cork-screw Circle stretched from the Sanc-tuary property (including the fish farm,central marsh and washout trail), northand east to Lake Trafford andImmokalee, south to 18th Avenue andwest almost to Twin Eagles.A grand total of 27,907 birds wascounted during the day. The most of-ten seen bird was the American Robinwith a total of 7,137 individuals, fol-lowed by Tree Swallows (5,320), Com-mon Grackles (2,229), Yellow-rumpedWarblers (1,767), and Mourning Doves(1,727).Numbers for eighteen species wereall-time highs in the 26 years of theCorkscrew Circle Christmas BirdCounts.
Corkscrew Area Count sets records for 18 species, tallies almost 28,000 birds
Record highs for individual speciesincluded Green-winged Teal, Wild Tur-key, Northern Harrier, Red-shoulderedHawk, Least Sandpiper, Eurasian Col-lared Dove, Mourning Dove, Rock Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, East-ern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay, Gray Catbird,Northern Mockingbird, Summer Tana-ger, and American Robin.Less common birds observed in-cluded Bufflehead, Peregrine Falcon,Scrub Jay, Wood Thrush, Sora, andSolitary Sandpiper.
 
 Profile
Cypress are in the redwood family
Taxodiaceae
, which includes the red-woods and giant sequoias in the west-ern United States.Although cypress are coni-fers, they are unique because theyare deciduous. This indicates thatalthough Corkscrew is in a sub-tropical area, cypress originatedas temperate plants where beingdeciduous was an advantage, andthey spread south rather thanoriginating as tropical plants andspreading north.The oldest trees at Corkscreware around 600 years old. The agewas based on a core peat samplefrom the central marsh which in-dicated that approximately 600 yearsago, a massive fire occurred. The car-bon deposit was thick enough that thefire must have destroyed everything.Cypress was and is heavily har-vested because of its qualities: it is re-sistant to decay but it is soft, light, verydurable, and doesn’t warp easily. Thesequalities have made it useful as railroadties, docks, bridges, silos, caskets, gar-den mulch, and in boat building. TheU.S. Navy used cypress for hulls of itsmine sweepers and P.T. boats in the1940’s and 1950’s because metal hullsset off water mines while wood hullsdid not.Almost every swamp in Floridawas logged between the 1800’s and1950’s. Heavy logging began in the1930’s. Corkscrew was saved and isnow the largest and oldest virgin baldcypress forest in North America. Otherunlogged areas of cypress trees in SouthCarolina are older, but they are in whatis a cypress-tupelo forest ratherthan a bald cypress forest.Bald cypress produces seedevery year, and good seed pro-duction occurs at intervals of about three to five years. Malecones appear on trees from De-cember to March and give off pollen to fertilize the femalecone. Male cones occur in tas-sel-like structures several incheslong and are usually near thetops of the cypress trees.Female cones aremostly round and are usu-ally in the lower portions of the cypresstrees. They appear from March to Aprilafter pollination and reach maturity be-tween October and December. Eachcone contains from 18-30 seeds andusually breaks apart on the tree to dis-perse the seeds.At maturity, parts of cones withtheir resin-coated seeds clinging tothem, or sometimes entire cones, dropto the water or ground. The seeds aredispersed by water flow.Seeds cannot germinate in waterbut can remain viable for up to 30months under water. They need satu-rated but unflooded soil for a period of one to three months after seedfall forgermination, so a dry-down is essen-tial for their successful reproduction.When you see cypress growing instanding water, the ground hadto be dry at the time the seed ger-minated.After germination, seedlingsmust grow fast enough to keepat least part of the crown abovewater level for most of the grow-ing season. Growth stops whena seedling is completely sub-merged and prolonged submerg-ing kills the seedling.Cypress can regenerate after windor lightning damage as long as the rootsystem and some of the living trunk isintact. Trees up to 60 years of agesend up healthy sprouts; trees upto 200 years of age may alsosprout but not very vigorously.Adventitious branching (sprout-ing from unusual or unexpectedplaces) may occur after storm orfire damage.The thin bark of cypress treesoffers little protection against fire,but the trees are usually protectedbecause fire burns out in the moistsoils where cypress grow. Duringdrought years when the soil is dry,a fire will usually kill the trees.Cypress roots are widespread,shallow, and horizontal. Youngtrees send a tap root down, but be-cause of the limestone base be-neath the sand and peat in Corkscrew,the tap roots never develop. Cypressknees grow up from the roots and tendto be one to two feet above the highestwater mark. Knees growing up througha dense matt of horizontal roots givethe trees stability to withstand windstorms.
Cypress Trivia
DNA testing has confirmed that baldcypress and pond cypress are twodistinct trees rather than one being avariation of the other; however, theycan hybridize.The largest bald cypress by volumeis in Cat Island National WildlifeRefuge near Baton Rouge. Itstrunk is 17 feet in diameter and it hasa crown spread of 85 feet.
Taxodium
is derived from a Greek word meaning “yew-like” and
distichum
means “two -ranked” re-ferring to the way the needles are ar-ranged in two ranks (exactly tworows on each side of the stem).
 Reference:
www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/ silvics_manual/Vllume_1/taxodium/ distichum.htm
 Bald Cypress
Taxodium distichum 

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