September 2020
The American Kestrel is North America's smallest falcon and most familiar. In South Florida, September is the month to begin watching for this species and other migrating birds of prey.
Photo: Kirsten Mauzy
September in the Field
Fall migration shifts into high gear this month as more and more songbirds seek stopover habitat in the Miami area to rest and refuel during their perilous journey south to their wintering grounds. Birders should keep a close eye on the weather, because a combination of overnight rains and westerly winds sometimes create fallout conditions, whereby dozens, or even hundreds, of migrant birds can suddenly appear in every tree and shrub.  

Many of the warblers passing through South Florida this month are either adults who have molted from their distinctive breeding plumage or are immature birds, making identification challenging. These “confusing fall warblers” include Tennessee, Cape May, Magnolia, Blackburnian and Chestnut-sided Warblers. Swainson’s and Canada Warblers also move through the area during September, though persistence and a little luck will be needed to find these species. The first migrant Ruby-throated Hummingbirds also arrive this month. Other birds to look for now include Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian and Least Flycatchers, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Lark Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bobolink, Baltimore Oriole and Blue Grosbeak.

September is also the month to begin watching overhead for migrating birds of prey, including Osprey, Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Broad-winged and Short-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. Excellent fall hawk-watching locations include Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne and Curry Hammock State Park near Marathon; the latter is home to the Florida Keys Hawkwatch. This TAS-supported Community Science project, which takes place every fall, is the southernmost hawkwatch location in North America. Nineteen raptor species have been documented at this hawkwatch; more migrant Peregrine Falcons are consistently counted in this Keys locale than at any other place in the world! It is hoped that the ongoing pandemic will not prevent the upcoming Florida Keys Hawkwatch season from taking place.  For updates, visit the Florida Keys Hawkwatch website.

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
Welcome Back Hummingbirds
Welcome Ruby-throated Hummingbirds this Fall. Click Here for the Recipe and to read how to make your own Hummingbird Nectar. Photo: Cecelia Leighton
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are heading our way! These flittering jewels either winter in South Florida or stop here in the fall as they migrate further south. Let’s welcome them with nurturing habitat. 
To successfully migrate, mate and reproduce, hummingbirds need to eat once every 10 to 15 minutes, visiting more than 1,000 flowers per day! Providing a hospitable habitat chock-full of native flowering plants, shrubs, vines and trees will help them flourish; such flora will also attract beneficial insects. Plant now and your efforts will be rewarded when these enchanting creatures arrive. 
You can also help nurture these tiny pollinators by placing — and properly maintaining — hummingbird feeders in your yard. Please note, it is imperative to keep the feeder CLEAN and free of bacteria. Indeed, it is a matter of life or death. Click Here to learn how to create a Hummingbird-friendly feeder in your yard.
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. 
To register or to view a detailed itinerary, click here. Email Brian Rapoza, TAS Field Trip Coordinator for additional information. Cancellation Policy: There will be a full land refund for any cancellation prior to the final payment deadline, October 18, 2020.

Featured Event
“Bird Migration in South Florida” with Brian Rapoza
Virtual Event
Wednesday, September 23, 6-7:30pm
The vibrant Painted Bunting is among the many bird species that migrate to South Florida.
Photo: Julie Torkomian
Every spring and fall, thousands of birds migrate through Florida, some traveling extreme
distances between their breeding and wintering grounds. Tropical Audubon Field Trip
Coordinator Brian Rapoza will discuss 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.

Until his retirement in 2018, Brian Rapoza was an environmental science teacher, outreach
specialist and internship coordinator at MAST Academy, a Maritime & Science Technology
High School located on Virginia Key. During his Miami-Dade County Public Schools tenure, he
led thousands of students on bird-watching expeditions through Everglades National Park and
other area birding destinations. In 2006, he was named MAST Teacher of the Year.
In his long-standing board role with Tropical Audubon Society, Brian serves as Field Trip
Coordinator, liaises with the Education Director and leads birding field trips throughout Florida,
the U.S. and the Neotropics.

Brian is the author of Birding Florida, a bird-finding guide to more than 200 locations across the
Sunshine State. Since 2001, he has also served as the Christmas Bird Count compiler for both
Miami and Coot Bay/Everglades National Park. Brian hails from New Bedford, Massachusetts,
and attended the University of Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1980 with a B.S. in Marine

To learn all about “Bird Migration in South Florida,” please join Brian on Wednesday, September 23 for his online "Zoom” presentation.
Conservation News
TAS Community takes Action, asks USFWS to
Expand Protected Habitat for Florida Bonneted Bat
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the Tropical Audubon Community for the outpouring of support for the endangered Florida Bonneted Bat. Last month, we asked you to write to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to urge it to expand habitat protections to ensure the bat’s survival and recovery, and many of you took action. This lovely little mammal is an integral and historic resident of Miami-Dade County — together, we can bring it back from the brink of extinction.

To read the letter that TAS submitted to the Service, click HERE.
Miami-Dade County Back Bay Study
— TAS urges County & US Army Corps of Engineers to leverage natural solutions & consider Everglades Restoration
Open Bay_TSmith
Sunrise at Biscayne Bay.
Photo: Tom E. Smith
The US Army Corps of Engineers recently published a Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Draft and a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to investigate solutions to reduce the damage and risks from impacts of coastal storms in Miami-Dade County. 

TAS appreciates the recent efforts by the Corps and Miami-Dade County to advance important climate adaptation projects to increase the county’s resiliency during and after coastal storm events, but the analysis must also incorporate a wider consideration of natural and nature-based features (NNBF) and a clearer examination of the relationship of this effort with ongoing projects associated with the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Read our comments to the USACE.
In Memoriam
Lloyd Miller
Lloyd Miller, pictured in 2008, was one of the handful of activists who fought powerful politicians and business forces to preserve Biscayne Bay. 
Photo by Miami Herald Photographer Carl Juste
Lloyd Miller, known as the “father” of Biscayne National Park, died August 23 at age 100. He was a conservation giant and a champion of the South Florida environment. For these reasons and more, the TAS family mourns his passing.
In 2002, TAS awarded Mr. Miller the "Charles M. Brookfield Medallion," the highest honor given by our organization to individuals who have dedicated their lives to conservation, the environment, South Florida, Tropical Audubon Society and our causes.
In 1961, Mr. Miller was serving as president of the Mangrove Chapter of the Izaak Walton League when he was approached by a group of local activists asking him to oppose a plan to construct an oil refinery on south Biscayne Bay. That group became the Safe Progress Association and eventually included Mr. Miller, Philip Wylie, Jim and Polly Redford, Juanita Greene and Art Marshall, among others. When this effort caught the eye of then Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, the idea of establishing an aquatic national park was born. U.S. Congressman Dante Fascell of Miami sponsored the bill to create Biscayne National Monument, which was signed by President Johnson in 1968. Were it not for the efforts of Mr. Miller and the Safe Progress Association, Biscayne National Park would not exist today.
Mr. Miller left our region a gift, and it is up to all of us to continue his mission — to steward and defend the Bay, as well as all of South Florida’s natural treasures.

Plants for Birds Feature
Planting the Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden ——
leveraging rainy season!
Saturday, September 19, 9am-Noon
RSVP Required
Zebra Longwing on a native Firebush plant.
Photo: Kristin Fonseca
A small, dedicated corps of Grounds volunteers working at physical distances has made big strides in establishing our new Bird-Friendly Demonstration Garden on our Steinberg Nature Center campus this summer. Under the direction of our staff Master Gardener Amy Creekmur, the garden was successfully solarized (a non-invasive, earth-friendly way of removing turf grass) last month and native stone was placed to define the borders. This month, planting will take place with rainy season as our ally. A very limited number of volunteers are welcome to participate on Saturday, September 19th, the last Saturday of summer! To adhere to gathering guidelines, interested participants MUST inquire via email to Amy at

Green Things to Do
International Coastal Cleanup Month
Help make an impact during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Month (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, is organizing a cleanup season from September 19th-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
Registration Opens September 1
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. Registration opens September 1.
Awarding the Bird-Friendly Garden Photography Contest Winners
Congratulations to all the winners of our inaugural Bird-Friendly Garden Photography Contest! The first and second place winners were recently awarded their gift certificates donated by Galloway Farm Nursery. From left: Patricia Kyle, owner of Galloway Farm Nursery, Colin Knight, second place winner, Bonnie Masdeu, first place winner, Amy Creekmur, TAS Master Gardener. Click HERE to read more about our contest winners.
The Birds Thank
… CombCutters, a live bee removal and educational service that TAS recently engaged to extract a large hive from an outbuilding adjacent to our chickee; busy honey bees had taken up residence in its southwest wall.

Beekeepers Rebecca Wood, Monique Moyer and Ana Pierre-Louis founded CombCutters in 2010 to humanely remove bees — and their extraordinary hives — from man-made structures and relocate them to productive hives in ideal locations. In turn, these eco heroes are helping preserve our region’s threatened bee population. Additionally, their services include set-up of backyard hives for budding beekeepers, and they also offer dynamic bee education workshops.

So, if bees take up residence in your rafters, consider calling CombCutters. Supporting those vendors who support TAS is an easy way to contribute to our Mission. The birds will thank you.