November 2020
Hooded Merganser. Photo: Anthony Goldman
November in the Field
November provides South Florida’s final opportunity to experience Fall Migration as the last transient songbirds journey south through our area. It’s also time to give our full attention to our winter visitors. Wintering Blue-winged Teal actually arrive as early as August, and a few other duck species appear in small numbers during September or October, but it’s not until November that most of our wintering waterfowl arrive.

By the end of November, waterfowl diversity reaches its peak, with more than a dozen duck species joining our resident Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Mottled Ducks and Wood Ducks. Any freshwater lake or pond, even in urban areas, can potentially host small flocks of Ring-necked Ducks during winter. In Everglades wetlands, the early-arriving Blue-winged Teal may be joined by Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser and Ruddy Duck. In some years, Redhead, Canvasback and Greater Scaup add to the mix.

Off of our beaches or in Biscayne Bay, keep watch for Black Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. Other water birds to look for along the coast include Northern Gannet, Horned Grebe and Common Loon.
Gull diversity at local beaches increases notably in November as resident Laughing Gulls are joined by wintering Ring-billed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls. Forster’s Terns also arrive for the winter, joining resident Royal and Sandwich Terns and Black Skimmers. Our beaches also host a wintering population of Piping Plovers, a threatened species. Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, Spotted, Least and Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Willet are among the many other shorebirds who regularly winter on South Florida beaches.

For the latest rare bird sightings, check Tropical Audubon’s Rare Bird Update.

Scheduling Update: Birding field trips remain on hold because activities in most Miami-Dade and Broward county parks continue to be limited to individuals and families. All Miami-Dade County park activities involving groups of 10 or more are prohibited. Our Doc Thomas House headquarters remains closed to the public. Please stay tuned for our timely updates.

If you missed our recent live webinar presentations or wish to view them again, visit:
Brian Rapoza
Tropical Audubon Society Field Trip Coordinator
Bird the Ruins of Mexico's Yucatán
January 20-30, 2022
A 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 Events
Calling all Birds of a Feather: It's time to Flock Together
Support TAS on #GiveMiamiDay
Thursday, November 19, 12am-11:59pm
Be part of the most exciting annual giving event of the year. Let's flock together and break our fundraising record!
Your #GiveMiamiDay gift to TAS in any amount $25 or more will be amplified via The Miami Foundation with the generous support of Knight Foundation. Your gift will help us fulfill our Mission to conserve and restore South Florida ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats. Save this link to Tropical Audubon Society's Give Miami Day page!
Register Today!
Tropical Audubon Ambassador Program
thru May 6, 2021
South Floridians interested in becoming more engaged, educated and effective environmental advocates are invited to register for the 2020-2021 Tropical Audubon Ambassador Program. Participants in the free webinar series will receive advocacy training and come away armed with in-depth knowledge about Everglades Restoration, Smart Growth and Biscayne Bay. The program’s goal is to empower graduates to activate their “Tropical Audubon Ambassador” education on behalf of South Florida ecosystems.

Over the course of the 7-month Tropical Audubon Ambassador Program, students will learn about the most pressing threats to South Florida’s environment, how to engage in the Miami-Dade County civic process, and how to participate in effective environmental advocacy campaigns. Spring field trips (subject to COVID protocols) will connect Tropical Audubon Ambassador students to local environmental communities and expand their understanding of the ecosystems Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) works to protect. Learn more.
Conservation Update
Setback: Miami Wilds Lease Approved
Thank you to those who took action and wrote to Miami-Dade County Commissioners on behalf of the endangered Florida bonneted bat, Miami tiger beetle, Florida leafwing and Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak butterflies. Despite the opposition of TAS and other conservation groups, the Commission voted on October 20 in favor of the Miami Wilds lease, giving a green light for the proposed hotel and water amusement park project adjacent to Zoo Miami.

Tropical Audubon Executive Director Paola Ferreira expressed her dismay: "We are deeply disappointed that the Board of County Commissioners defied the will of the voters and approved a 40-year lease in stark contradiction to the 2006 referendum that clearly stated that the water park should not be located in environmentally sensitive lands. Voters obviously wanted to avoid this very situation: Putting four endangered species on the brink of extinction. Science has told us that each of these four endangered species —the Florida Bonneted Bat, Miami Tiger Beetle and Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak and Florida leafwing butterflies — depend on this habitat for their very survival. As proposed, the amusement park would be constructed in the midst of critically endangered Pine Rocklands. What’s equally distressing is that the environmental concerns expressed in more than 3,000 constituent emails to the Board of County Commissioners and to Parks and Open Spaces were not discussed thoroughly." 

Together with our allies, we are considering what course of action to take next. Stay tuned.
Chirping About
Restoration underway!
The long overdue structural restoration of our historic 1932 Doc Thomas House headquarters is now fully underway, commencing from the ground up:

  • Repairs to the concrete foundation piers (to which the house’s floor framing beams are bolted) have been completed. 
  • House structural repairs are nearing completion: Deteriorated wood beams and support posts have been replaced and/or reinforced. Damaged board-and-batten cypress siding is being replaced. (This distinctive siding construction forms the exterior and interior walls of the original bedroom and kitchen wings.)
  • Porch Structural Repairs
  • Roof Replacement

The multiple effects of time, heat, humidity, hurricanes and daily use take a natural toll on wood structures, so this head-to-toe makeover is much needed.

A late example of Florida wood-frame vernacular architecture, the charming cottage was constructed primarily of native materials, including tidewater red cypress, Dade County pine and two types of South Florida limestone. Its architecture also reflects Arts and Crafts movement influences, as exemplified in the structure's detailed woodwork patterns, striking limestone-faced fireplace and numerous built-in features. 

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, named a Florida Heritage Site and designated a Dade County Historic Site, the Doc Thomas House is a bonafide Old Florida architectural gem. Its exterior and interior restoration will take a village!

Please stay tuned for more details.
Photos courtesy of Red Door Construction
Plants for Birds
Eco-Gardening Volunteer Day
Saturday, November 21, 9am-Noon
RSVP Required
Pollinators, such as this Monarch Butterfly drinking Goldenrod nectar, have already discovered the newly installed Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden hemming our Sunset Drive front yard. A limited number of volunteers are invited to participate in our November 21 Eco-Gardening day at our South Miami campus. To adhere to our gathering guidelines, interested participants MUST inquire via email to Amy at

Gardening for Migratory Birds
By Kirsten Hines
A migrating Common Yellowthroat Warbler plucks whitefly from a gumbo limbo tree.
Fall is an exciting time to be a bird-friendly gardener in South Florida. In addition to the anticipated return of favored winter residents, such as Painted Buntings and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, there’s the opportunity to expand one’s yard list with a variety of migratory species now passing through.

Most of our migratory birds use upland habitats, which in our area now lie mostly within our cities and suburbs, so making your garden migratory-bird-friendly is a huge help to the birds, and means you’ll have many new species in your yard.

What’s the best way to attract these migrants to your garden? Encourage insects! They’re looking for protein to help fuel their journeys at this time of year, so here are a few things you can do to ensure the right food is in your yard:

•  Plant native insect-supporting plants. Marlberry, buttonwood and goldenrods are good choices.

•  Add a naturalistic water feature. Concrete birdbaths aren’t the best choice because they encourage mosquitoes, and birds prefer to drink on the ground where water naturally occurs. A shallow hole lined with durable plastic is all you need. Add a few hardy native water plants, such as pickerelweed and lizard’s tail, and you’ve created a miniature pond. Add native mosquitofish to avoid unwanted mosquitoes.

•   Do not use pesticides, or put down mulch with insecticidal properties. Remember, the migrants are looking for insects; the best mulch for both the birds and the bugs is what nature supplies – the leaves and twigs that fall from the plants already in your yard.
Kirsten Hines is on the Tropical Audubon Society and Audubon Florida boards, and is a nature writer and photographer with an M.Sc. in biology who co-authored the gardening reference book Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens.
Green Things to Do
Come see the Hawks!
Visit Florida Keys Hawkwatch
Thru November 15
Every year, thousands of hawks migrate through the Florida Keys. Some stay for the winter, some turn around and head north, but most continue on to Cuba, the Caribbean and points further south. It is an amazing spectacle. 

The Florida Keys Hawkwatch happens at Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon, a geographically ideal place to count these birds of passage and monitor the health of their populations. It lies just a few hours' drive from Miami, providing an ideal opportunity for birders of all levels to visit and connect, and learn about these amazing creatures. Counters will be on site from 8am to 3pm until November 15. This season's chief counter is South Florida birdwatcher extraordinaire Luis Gles. Come meet him. Visit. Learn. Have fun. Become a more proactive birdwatcher. The Florida Keys Hawkwatch crew always appreciates the company and the extra spotters. Perhaps you will be inspired to return as a volunteer next fall.

TAS supports this crucial annual count along with Florida Keys Audubon and Kowa Sporting Optics.
Send questions to or or connect on Florida Keys Hawkwatch takes place at Curry Hammock State Park, MM56.2, Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL Click HERE for more information.
The Birds Thank
The Birds thank Mark Howell of Cut Rite Tree Service for his diligent stewardship of the Steinberg Nature Center feeders and birdbaths, and for his thoughtful care of our property’s treasured tropical hardwoods and legacy trees.

The Miami native and TAS adviser (pictured above) suggests trimming your non-fruit-bearing trees, such as live oak, mahogany and gumbo-limbo, between November and April. He advises fruit-bearing specimens should be tended immediately after the last fruit falls (but not trimmed yearly).

Mark has been trimming trees locally for nearly 40 years, is an owner/operator who makes all the cuts, and also provides stump-grinding services.

If you are in need of clean mulch, Mark will occasionally deliver a load of it gratis depending on your location. Using chipped cuttings saves disposal dollars, keeps precious organic material out of landfills, helps enrich soils and minimizes irrigation needs.

At this time of year, Cut Rite is a great resource for firewood, too.

To contact Mark, call his 305.661.1453 land line for the best response time; alternatively, you can e-mail him at

Supporting those vendors who support TAS is an easy way to contribute to our Mission. The Birds will thank you!