October 2020
The Blue-headed Vireo typically makes its first fall appearance here in October. 
Photo: Doug DeNeve
October in the Field
October brings the last big push of fall migrants though South Florida. Any overnight rain or strong headwinds during the month will force songbirds migrating over urban areas to seek shelter in local parks or backyards. The hoped-for arrival of an October cold front could bring us an excellent selection of birds, along with welcome relief from September’s oppressive heat and humidity. First-of-season songbirds to watch for this month include Philadelphia Vireo, Gray-cheeked and Wood Thrush, Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Nashville, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green and Wilson’s Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting. 

Several of our wintering species also typically make their first appearance in October, including Whip-poor-will, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-headed Vireo, House Wren, Gray Catbird and Orange-crowned, Palm and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Painted Buntings also become common now. A visit to wetland areas may reward you with first Sora, American Bittern or Wilson’s Snipe of the season. Beginning in the latter half of the month, check brushy areas for wintering sparrows, including Savannah, Grasshopper, Clay-colored, Swamp and Lincoln’s. Keep an eye out for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds in agricultural areas such as those outside the Homestead entrance to Everglades National Park. October is also an excellent month for vagrants to appear here; for the latest sightings, check Tropical Audubon’s Rare Bird Update.

Our Doc Thomas House headquarters remains closed to the public. Please stay tuned for our timely updates.
Brian Rapoza
Tropical Audubon Society Field Trip Coordinator
Bird the Ruins of Mexico's Yucatán
New Date TBA
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. 
Note: The January 21-31, 2021 trip has been postponed until further notice. To view a detailed itinerary, click here. Email Brian Rapoza, TAS Field Trip Coordinator for additional information.
Featured Event
“Exotic Birds of South Florida” presented by Brian Rapoza
Virtual Event
Tuesday, October 20, 7-8pm
The vibrant Blue-and-yellow Macaw is among the many exotic bird species that live in South Florida.
Photo: John Paul Stanisic
More than 200 non-native bird species have been introduced to the Sunshine State since the late 1800s, either intentionally or accidentally. Tropical Audubon Field Trip Coordinator Brian Rapoza will discuss which of these exotic birds can currently be spotted in South Florida, where they came from, how they got here and what impacts, if any, these non-native species have on our native bird populations.
“Bird Migration in South Florida” presented by Brian Rapoza
Webinar Recording
Every spring and fall, thousands of birds migrate through Florida, some traveling extreme
distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. In this recorded webinar, Tropical Audubon Field Trip Coordinator Brian Rapoza discusses which birds traditionally visit our area, why and when,
what triggers their journey, how far they migrate, how birds navigate, what hazards they face
during migration, and how you can help migratory birds on their journey.
Plants for Birds
Tending the Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden
Saturday, October 17, 9am-Noon
RSVP Required
A small, dedicated corps of Grounds volunteers working at physical distances lent their green thumbs on Saturday, September 19, to help install the first 50 plants in the Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden now taking root on our Steinberg Nature Center campus. Under the direction of our staff Master Gardener Amy Creekmur, 10 volunteers planted a variety of bird-attracting species, including Tropical Sage and Privet Senna; they also tackled removal of invasive potato vine and other nuisance plants. A limited number of volunteers are again invited to participate on Saturday, October 17. To adhere to gathering guidelines, interested participants MUST inquire via email to Amy at volunteer@tropicalaudubon.org

Time to Plant a Bird-friendly Veggie Garden
By Kirsten Hines
Birds, such as this Common Yellowthroat, will forage among tomato plants for bugs.
October brings the promise of cooler temperatures to our region, which means it’s time to plant your vegetable garden. Store-bought tomatoes just can’t compete with sun-ripened, home-grown ones for flavor. Plus, the birds will benefit, too!

While they may sample a ripe tomato or two, birds are mostly interested in a vegetable garden’s insects. You can prevent their grazing by picking fruit early but let them eat the bugs!

South Florida is blessed with many kinds of insects, most of whom won’t affect your overall production. For your health and that of the birds and beneficial insects, it’s important to avoid pesticides and instead rely on environmentally gentle spot treatment, as needed:

  • Hand-pluck large beetles or caterpillars (make sure the latter are not desirable butterflies by visiting the caterpillar identification guide).
  • For sedentary pests, such as aphids, whitefly and powdery mildew, apply a mixture of horticultural oil (nothing heavier) and mild dish soap
  • Cover soil with cardboard to stop slugs in their tracks.
  • Deter rats (the worst tomato thieves) with mint-based sprays.

Here are a few bird-friendly vegetables to consider planting now; all do well in pots, as well as in-ground:
  • tomatoes (especially fast-ripening cherry tomatoes)
  • bell peppers
  • hot peppers (bird peppers are native to South Florida)
  • green beans (Trinidadian-long beans do amazingly well here)
  • parsley and dill (swallowtail butterfly hosts)
  • mint (a natural deterrent to rodents and other pests)
  • cilantro (birds especially like its seeds)
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.
Dade County Pine Tree GIVEAWAY!
South Miami City Hall
Saturday, October 3, 8am-Noon
Dade County Pine Trees are being given to good homes for FREE. Grown in 3-gallon pots with love and donated by South Miami Commissioner Bob Welsh, the pines are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of Jamaican Capers and Jack Fruit seedlings will also be given away. Attendees MUST WEAR A MASK for entry. 

South Miami City Hall
6100 Sunset DR
South Miami, FL 33143

For more information contact BWelsh@southmiamifl.gov
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. 

The project is the only daily hawkwatch count south of Virginia. Numbers are tallied for every species of bird sighted, with more Peregrine Falcons counted than at any other count in the world.
Counters will be on site from 9am to 4pm daily through November 1, then 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.

Florida Keys Hawkwatch takes place at Curry Hammock State Park, MM56.2, Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL

International Coastal Cleanup Month
Thru November 1
Help make an impact during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup (formerly the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day), a global effort benefiting our oceans and waterways.
Ocean Conservancy encourages coastal residents worldwide to safely celebrate and participate in the 2020 International Coastal Cleanup, observing your local gathering and distancing guidelines. Safely come together and make a difference as you #CleanOn: In your waterfront community you can perform an individual or small-scale, physically distant cleanup OR online you can research waste reduction and lobby elected and appointed officials to make a clean, healthy ocean a priority.

In Miami-Dade County, VolunteerCleanup.org is organizing a cleanup season until November 1st.

Check out these websites for more information on how to participate: Surfrider Foundation
Audubon Florida Virtual Assembly 2020
Reimagining Audubon Florida: A Call for Inclusive Conservation
October 19-24
Painted Bunting. Photo: Lillian Beasley/Audubon Photography Awards
Join Audubon chapters from across the state for Audubon Florida’s annual assembly. This year’s virtual event will include learning sessions, panel discussions, a chapter celebration, and field trips via video with a theme of inclusive conservation. The Keynote Presentation by J. Drew Lanham, author, poet, and wildlife biologist, will tie it all together.

This year, Spanish interpretation will be offered during all the sessions. 
Save the Date!
The Birds Thank
The Birds thank Creations Hair salon owners Janet Roseman and Eric May for being such kind, generous and supportive neighbors year in and out, but most especially over the last six months while our staff has been working remotely. Roseman and May are vigilant stewards of our 56th Avenue fence-line, picking up litter and keeping an eagle-eye on our chickee gate security. They also offer us overflow parking in their private lot, and see to it that local feral cats are spayed/neutered. We are blessed to have their friendship.

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

Creations Hair
7240 SW 56th Avenue
Miami FL 33143