February 2021
Purple Martins who breed in Florida and elsewhere in eastern North America have become entirely dependent on humans to provide nesting "houses." Photo by Leslie Scopes Anderson
February in the Field
It’s mid-winter in South Florida, and the majority of spring migrants and summer breeders aren’t expected to arrive for another couple months, but you can be on the lookout for two early migrants to our area: Purple Martin, one of the largest members of the swallow family, and Swallow-tailed Kite, the stunningly beautiful raptor that has long been Tropical Audubon Society’s “mascot.” Both species winter in South America and then breed in Florida.

Purple Martins are the first to leave their wintering grounds, with “scouts” arriving here as early as January. These older, experienced birds of both sexes are in search of suitable nesting locations for their colonies. Although Purple Martins who breed in western North America still nest in abandoned woodpecker holes and other natural cavities, those who breed in Florida and elsewhere in eastern North America have become entirely dependent on humans to provide nesting “houses.”

The first Swallow-tailed Kites typically arrive in South Florida in mid- to late-February. Everglades National Park is an excellent place to search for them, especially in March when the bulk of the population arrives. Many are just passing through our area on their way to nesting territories elsewhere in Florida or other southeastern states, but some will nest here. Most of those who stay will choose nesting locations in Everglades or Big Cypress habitats, but a few will choose to nest in urban areas. Kites nesting in urban Miami-Dade seem to prefer non-native Australian pines to build their nests.

There is still much to learn about the life histories of these remarkable species, and several community science opportunities are available for the public to collect and contribute valuable data. The Purple Martin Conservation Association’s website includes information regarding its Project Martinwatch and Scout-Arrival Study programs, as well as everything you need to know to attract a Purple Martin colony to your backyard. The Avian Research and Conservation Institute’s website encourages reporting of nesting and roosting activity for Swallow-tailed Kites and several other threatened Florida bird species.

Speaking of community science opportunities, the Great Backyard Bird Count takes place this month from the 12th to the 15th. This annual event, launched in 1988 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, encourages bird enthusiasts of all ability levels to spend time in their backyard or favorite birding locale, counting as many birds as they can find and identify. If you plan to participate, just make sure to review GBBC counting instructions and follow all local COVID-19 guidelines. We also encourage you to share your sightings on our TAS Bird Board, located on Facebook and our website.

Brian Rapoza
Tropical Audubon Society Field Trip Coordinator
Bird the Ruins of Mexico's Yucatán
January 20-30, 2022
The King Vulture is one of the many colorful species you may spot on this trip.
Pack your binoculars and embark on an intense, 11-day, 10-night birding adventure to the environmentally diverse Yucatán Peninsula. Led by TAS Field Trip Coordinator Brian Rapoza, and a local guide, you’ll witness native birds soar above the breathtaking Hochob, Becán, Chacchoben and Uxmal ruins, as well as other archaeological sites of interest on this extraordinary journey through the Mayan world.

Note: The new date is January 20-30, 2022. To view a detailed itinerary, click here. Email Brian Rapoza, TAS Field Trip Coordinator for additional information.
Featured Event
Join us for Equitable Everglades —
the 36th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference
February 2-5
Join kindred conservationists at the 36th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference and engage in meaningful discussions and presentations focusing on the restoration of America's Everglades. You'll be in good company!

Along with decision-makers from federal, state, local and tribal governments, stakeholders, scientists, educators, contractors, students and the general public, the conference will feature TAS Board Member Terrance "Rock" Salt as a speaker on the panel: CERP — Twenty Years of Restoration, Tuesday, February 2, 12-1pm, and TAS Executive Director Paola Ferreira as moderator and also a panelist for Everglades 101 presented in Spanish, Tuesday, February 2, 6-7pm.

The Everglades Coalition is an alliance of more than 60 local, state and national conservation and environmental organizations dedicated to full restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes into Lake Okeechobee and to the estuaries, through the River of Grass, down to Florida Bay and the Keys. Click here to register for the Conference.
In the News
Miami-Dade County approves rule giving developers more time to propose projects beyond the UDB
The Everglades provide critical habitat for the Reddish Egret. Photo: Andrew Long

MDC Commissioners voted on January 20 to change growth management rules that will allow developers more opportunities to propose projects beyond the county’s Urban Development Boundary (UDB).

The UDB is a boundary line intended to prevent urban sprawl and protect farms and wetlands; it is embedded in Miami-Dade’s Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP).

TAS Executive Director Paola Ferreira says the county's changes weaken the CDMP, calling it "the gold standard" for protecting Miami-Dade County’s agricultural and environmental lands, and viewing it as critical to balancing competing interests and buffering the Everglades from the urban core.

According to Ferreira, "Protecting the integrity of the CDMP and its UDB is essential to defending the county’s water resources given the critical role that the Everglades and the agricultural areas play in recharging the Biscayne Bay aquifer. We think it is vital that the County continue to analyze applications in an orderly and comprehensive way, and that any change to the Urban Development Boundary should be an exception."

TAS Allies Appointed to New Environmental Posts!
Shannon Estenoz named Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary - Fish and Wildlife and Parks
Ms. Estenoz most recently was the Chief Operating Officer of The Everglades Foundation. Previously, she served as Interior’s Director of Everglades Restoration Initiatives and Executive Director of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. Read more.
Irela Bagué named Miami-Dade County Chief Bay Officer
Ms. Bagué was the former chair of Miami-Dade County’s Biscayne Bay Task Force, Vice-Chair of the Resilience Committee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and serves on the City of Coral Gables Sustainability Advisory Board, Resilient Utility Coalition, and Florida Water Advocates. Read More.

Chirping About
WATCH “WINGS OF HOPE” Virtual Opening Reception
Featuring “Painted Tapestries and Photography of Florida’s Imperiled Birds”
by The Palette Knife Artists of Miami
based on the photographic artistry of Bonnie Masdeu
+ Bird Talk presented by Brian Rapoza
You can now watch the Virtual Reception celebrating the “Wings of Hope,” a collaborative exhibit hanging at Biscayne National Park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center Gallery through February 28. Subtitled “Painted Tapestries and Photography of Florida’s Imperiled Birds,” the body of work is by The Palette Knife Artists of Miami whose inspiration was found in the award-winning photography of Bonnie Masdeu.

The 1-hour program includes a brief history of The Palette Knife Artists of Miami, a virtual “Meet the Artists” chat, a palette knife painting demo, a video tour of the exhibit and a presentation by TAS board member and Field Trip Coordinator Brian Rapoza, who speaks about the twelve imperiled Florida bird species depicted by the artists.

Wings of Hope is a collaboration — one photographer and twelve artists — who collectively
hope the world will stop, look, listen, learn and act for the imperiled species who need our voice.
Plants for Birds
Bird-friendly Gardening Day
Saturday, February 20, 9am-Noon
RSVP Required
Learn more about native Tropical sage, which provides nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
Do you have a green thumb, or wish to learn more about native plants for birds? You are invited take part in maintaining our Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden at our Steinberg Nature Center campus! Get hands-on experience creating wildlife habitat. Learn about native plants like Tropical sage (pictured above) and other pollinator-attracting plants. The knowledge and skills you gain will enable you to establish a bird-friendly garden in your own yard or patio — interested participants MUST RSVP to Amy at volunteer@tropicalaudubon.org

Please note that only a limited number of volunteers can be accommodated, and that volunteers will be required to wear a mask and adhere to our gathering guidelines.

Photography Contest
Announcing 2021 Audubon Photography Awards —
featuring two new prize categories!
You’re crazy about birds and photography, right? Combine your dual passions by entering your best bird photos in the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards. This year's competition features two new categories: the Female Bird Prize and Video Prize. Submit your entry by April 7, 2021. Read more for more information on judges, categories, prizes and rules.
The Birds Thank
Above: Keyboardist Steve Chavoustie (far left) of Take Sixx proposed the Conservation Concert Series in 2010 and helped to launch it.
Below, from left; In "normal years," Plan B traditionally anchors our February concert and Been There Done That fills the March bill.
... Our Rock ‘n’ Rollers!
For the first time since the inaugural 2010 Conservation Concert season we did not strike up the band on the last Saturday of January. Like you, we all miss gathering under the stars and Audubon oaks for our winter concerts — our musician friends are especially eager to light up the Keystone stage once again.
During this more quiet and contemplative winter, we would like to convey our organization’s abiding gratitude to the three bands that volunteer for us every year — Take Sixx (January), Plan B (February) and Been There Done That (March). How fortunate for TAS that the guys and gals who belong to these groups are passionate about music and conservation!
We will continue to play it safe for now, so until we all meet again, you can follow two of our ConCon bands here: Take Sixx, Plan B.