Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

November 2016 Conservation Notes

By Guest Columnist David Hartgrove,  Vice-President Halifax Audubon

I was under the impression that the road to Everglades restoration was well under way and would include the construction of a large reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. For far too long polluted water from the lake has been dumped into the Caloosahatchee and St Lucie Rivers, where that water then flows into estuaries on both sides of the state. This discharge of this polluted water was principally responsible for the degraded condition of the Indian River south of Melbourne two years ago.


Now comes news that the state, in yet another incidence of foot dragging, will not even begin to study the issue until 2020. This was supposed to have been settled back when Charlie Crist was governor. He devised a plan to buy US Sugar’s land, south of Clewiston, for a fair price. Then had to watch as the Legislature, ever anxious to serve those making king-sized campaign donations, dawdled around and let the deal expire. The state still has an option until 2020 to purchase the land. Now however, US Sugar has been able to renegotiate the deal and the asking price is just over 1 billion dollars (up from $197M for 28,000 acres that was optioned during the last Crist administration). Meanwhile as a handful of US Sugar shareholders count their government subsidized profits and we once again are left to deal with their pollution.

Key Deer, the small and very much endangered white-tailed deer of extreme South Florida now face yet another threat. Screw worm is actually the larval stage of Cochliomyia hominivorax, also know as a blowfly.  These voracious little maggots attack otherwise healthy animals and the result is often a long, painful, lingering death. FWC researchers are said to be looking into methods of dealing with the disease but for now luck, in the form of not being a host to these destructive pests, is the best we can hope for.

From Bird Studies Canada comes news of yet another hybridization in the world of warblers. This one is the first ever record of a Magnolia x Chestnut-sided. The bird was captured in a mist net at Long Point Bird Observatory during Spring migration in 2014. Here’s a link to an article in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

Magnolia x Chestnut-sided Warbler; photo by Ken Burrell

magnolia x chestnut sided hybrid

Thanks to Halifax chapter member, Lisa Mickey, for sending along a note about this article on the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” website. It’s fascinating information on Florida’s only endemic species, the Florida Scrub Jay.

                David Hartgrove