July 2020
Everything about the Black-necked Stilt seems delicate — from its incredibly thin stilt-legs to its slim wings and its needle-like bill — yet it manages to thrive in our blazing South Florida mid-summer along beaches and in flooded agricultural fields.
Photo: Melissa Groo
July in the Field
Scheduling Update

It may be High Summer for humans, but July in South Florida marks the arrival of our first Fall migrants. You can likely see the Black-necked Stilt, Greater and Lesser yellowlegs, Pectoral, Stilt and Least sandpipers and other shorebirds in flooded Homestead agricultural fields and in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee. These flooded fields also often attract impressive assemblages of wading birds, including the Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill. By month-end, southbound songbirds begin to alight in welcoming backyards and area parks. Expected species include Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Northern Parula and Black-and-white, Yellow-throated and Prairie warblers. To attract more Fall visitors in search of "Bed & Breakfast" accommodations, consider expanding your yard's native habitat now; plus, rainy season is the best time to plant (see "Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden Update" below). Our Doc Thomas House headquarters remains closed to the public. Please stay tuned for our timely updates.
American Flamingo makes rare appearance in Keys
A rare sighting of the iconic American Flamingo took place recently in the mangroves of Big Torch Key, creating buzz on our Facebook Bird Board .
Photo: Michelle Perez
The American Flamingo ( Phoenicopterus ruber ) is undoubtably the most recognizable bird associated with Florida. Despite being considered a Florida native, what most people may not realize is that it’s only seen in the Sunshine State on rare occasions, and when it is spotted, more often than not its location proves difficult to access. Last month, as reported on our Bird Board, one of those rare occasions presented itself on June 19, when six American Flamingos were photographed in a mangrove wetland on Big Torch Key in the Florida Keys. Their fortuitous location right alongside a road provided easy access for a change! A single bird was seen there the following day, June 20. Another solo sighting took place on nearby Ramrod and Big Pine Keys on June 22; it (or another outlier) reappeared on Big Torch Key on June 25. It has since been seen there daily, thrilling dozens of birders and photographers.

Want to catch a glimpse of this regal, iconic wading bird? Visit  Tropical Audubon Bird Board South Florida Rare Bird Update to get directions to the locations where it’s been spotted to date.
Bird the Ruins of Mexico's Yucatán
January 21-31, 2021
Spaces Available
The Collared Aracari 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. 
Eyes will be skyward daily as a rainbow array of birds, including hummingbirds, parrots, tanagers, flamingos, raptors and many more, put on a display. From trail hikes to boat rides, birding enthusiasts will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor activities while learning about the history of the Maya and the birds that call the Yucatán Peninsula home. 
Fee: $2,745 per person double occupancy, $345 single supplement. Price includes transportation, lodging, guides and park fees. Not included is round-trip airfare to the Yucatán (arrival in Cozumel, departure from Merida), tips, laundry costs or other incidental expenses.   A $200 deposit is due at time of booking, balance of payment due by October 18, 2020.

Cancellation Policy: There will be a full land refund for any cancellation prior to the final payment deadline, October 18, 2020 .

To register or to view a detailed itinerary, click here .  Email  Brian Rapoza , TAS Field Trip Coordinator for additional information.

Chirping About
Bird-Friendly Demo Garden Crew Harnesses the Sun!
Despite the global pandemic, hungry mosquitoes and record heat, our new Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden is taking shape on our Steinberg Nature Center campus. A small, determined, socially distanced crew of board members and advisers has been digging in under the direction of TAS Master Gardener Amy Creekmur and TAS board member Kirsten Hines.

Working together, a shallow 6x8’ site for a pond water feature has been excavated and existing garden beds have been extended using solarization, a non-invasive, earth-friendly way of removing turf grass. This is a simple method for home gardeners that involves laying down/anchoring plastic sheeting over the grass to be eliminated. The process harnesses the sun, which naturally kills the grass and bakes the soil free of nematodes and remnant unwanted seeds in advance of installing new plants. (Plastic sheeting should be left in place for at least four weeks, and for best results up to three months . )

Ideally located in full view of Sunset Drive and countless pedestrians using the adjacent sidewalk, the new demonstration garden is designed to inspire and empower area residents to recreate wildlife habitat for birds, bees and other pollinators in their yards, on their patios, or even on balconies. 

Groundbreaking took place in February with shovel-wielding volunteers potting up native plants that will be replanted in the new beds. As installation continues, there should be opportunities for the public to dig in as social distancing guidelines permit.

Planting is scheduled to commence in the midst of rainy season, which will help new plants get the water they need to become well established. The demo garden will showcase wildlife-nurturing native plants whose resilience and inherent qualities allow for reduced landscape care, including little to no irrigation and the elimination of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

Interpretive signs will describe the merits of various plant types, their inherent value to specific bird and butterfly species, and their role in the environment and home landscape. An instructive “Bird-friendly Gardening Guide” will be available on-site, both in print and virtually. The Bird-friendly Demonstration Garden will provide visitors with the tools and inspiration to turn their own yards into havens for birds and other wildlife. We encourage home gardeners to share their stories with the community via a “Plants for Birds” social media campaign on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.
The birds are blessed to have Creekmur and Hines in the Tropical Audubon Society nest, the former as TAS Volunteer Coordinator and Master Gardener, the latter as board member, Nature writer/photographer and co-author of the gardening reference book  “Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens.” Both women are integral to the project’s progress to date, as are our intrepid volunteers and our generous Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden underwriters: the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Regulations Management (DERM) and National Audubon Society.

Please stay tuned for Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden updates throughout the summer!
Featured Event
Take-out or Dine-in @Whisk Gourmet
Tuesday, July 14, 6-9pm
Make a dinner date at  Whisk Gourmet  and, in turn,  Whisk  will feather the proverbial TAS nest with 10 percent of its dinner revenues. Whisk is presently offering Take-out, Curbside-delivery or Dine-in options (dining room seating is limited due to social distancing guidelines, so reservations are required).

No matter how you choose to order, enjoy Chef Carlos Montenegro’s bright, boldly flavored seasonal cuisine, and  delectable  house favorites such as Roasted Cauliflower with Walnut Pesto, Filet Mignon Salad and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. 
Whisk  helps TAS protect all the places South Floridians cherish : Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay  and  The Everglades.  The Birds profusely thank Whisk's ownership team for so generously and gamely continuing this annual Summer dining series under our “new normal” scenario.
Save the Date:  August 11 for one more opportunity to Take-out or Dine-in for the Birds!

onsite free parking & valet service available @whiskgourmet

Bird-Friendly Garden Photo Contest
Deadline Extended to July 31!
Awards Boosted
The native South Florida Firebush is a nectar source for the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Photo: Gary Robinette
Our Bird-Friendly Garden Photography Contest Prizes have been generously boosted by  Galloway Farm Nursery ! To give more of you a wider window to participate, we have also extended the submission deadline to Friday, July 31. 

So if you haven't already been busy snapping away, we encourage you nature shutterbugs to send us your best images of birds, butterflies and/or other pollinators in your Florida garden or yard. 

With rainy season upon us, it’s also the perfect time of year to  enhance your bird-friendly habitat by planting more natives in your yard , or in pots on your patio or balcony. The nectar, fruit and seeds they provide will attract birds year-round.  We can't wait to see your photos!

Contest Rules
  1. Open to amateur photographers of all levels.
  2. Entries accepted June 1-July 31.
  3. Limit 3 entries per participant.
  4. Photos must be taken in your Florida garden or yard; preference will be given to native flora or fauna.
  5. Photos should be no larger than 5MB without watermarks and free of photo-shopped elements.
  6. 300 dpi jpegs are preferable; smart phone settings should be at the highest possible resolution.

How to Enter 
E-mail up to 3 photos depicting birds and/or other pollinators in your bird-friendly habitat to  outreach@tropicalaudubon.org

Include the following information in your email submission:
• First & last name
• Name of the plant, bird or other pollinator in each photo if known.
• County/Municipality
• Social media handles (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) to tag when the winner is announced

Timeline & Deadline
Submissions open Monday, June 1 through midnight, Friday July 31. Winners will be announced on Monday, August 10 at 2 p.m. across our social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). 

Photos will be judged on technical quality, composition, originality and how well the image showcases bird-friendly native plants and wildlife — birds, bees, butterflies, beetles or any other pollinators foraging in your green space. Judges will include TAS communications staff, professional photographers and photo editors.

1st Place : 1-year individual TAS membership, a  $100 Gift Certificate from Galloway Farm Nursery  toward the purchase of native plants and a copy of  Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens  by James A. Kushlan and Kirsten Hines. The winning photo will also be published in our TAS e-newsletter and social media pages. 

2nd Place:  1-year individual TAS membership and a  $50 Gift Certificate from Galloway Farm Nursery  toward the purchase of native plants. The 2 nd  Place photo will also be published in our TAS e-newsletter and social media pages. 

3rd Place: $35 Gift Certificate from Galloway Farm Nursery  toward the purchase of native plants. The 3 rd  Place photo will also be published in our TAS e-newsletter and social media pages. 

Copyright Release:  Your participation grants TAS full permission to freely use your photos (with credit to the photographer) for conservation messaging on various TAS platforms. 

Always remember to practice ethical bird photography!
Click HERE  to learn more about how to be an ethical birder.
The Birds Thank
… Galloway Farm Nursery, our mid-county go-to for native plants and pond supplies. Founded in 1981 by the late Jim Lawrence, Galloway Farm Nursery (GFM) is stewarded with love today by his business partner and widow Patricia Kyle.

A green island oasis in a sea of doctor’s offices, GFN has developers licking their chops, but Patricia’s nursery roots run deep. “The Plant Lady,” as she is also known by clients from the Keys to Palm Beach, has turned down countless offers to purchase the 2.5-acre property. “I’m simply not interested, I tell them I'll be here until I die,” says the big-hearted owner of this refreshingly “old school” nursery. Patricia treats her long-tenured employees like family because they are family to her, and she treats the Birds like royalty with her inordinate generosity of spirit.

This month, GFN donated the 1 st , 2 nd  and 3 rd  place Native Plant Prizes for our “Bird-friendly Garden Photo Contest,” which runs through July 31 (see above for contest listing and entry guidelines). 

You can help Patricia keep her green space humming by patronizing GFN for all of your native, ornamental, vegetable, herb, hardscape and water feature needs.

Supporting the small, local businesses that support TAS is an easy way to contribute to our Mission. The Birds will thank you!

Galloway Farm Nursery
7790 SW 87 Avenue, Miami