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Longform Stories from July 2024 Newsletter

You Have to Look Up!

Swallow-tailed Kites at Possum Long Nature Center

By Mary W. O'Brien

​Soaring high above us, the Swallow-tailed Kites returned to Possum Long this spring. While these incredible fliers normally nest in large colonies in tall pines and cypress trees across Florida, here at Possum Long we have solitary nesters who have wandered onto our oasis for the past several years keeping their nest well-hidden. 


​They winter in South America and nest in the southeastern United States, returning to South America in the late summer, early fall according to Audubon Center for Birds of Prey author Danielle Vincent.


As described to her article, “These adept and acrobatic fliers were listed as a vulnerable species in 2019 and have been at risk of habitat loss, with a range that was diminished from 21 states to just seven over the course of four decades. A majority of habitat loss for Swallow-tailed Kites has been the result of timber harvesting and agriculture. They appear to be rebounding, but they have not yet regained their former range.”


At Possum Long we are treated to the great flying acrobatics of this bird of prey.


You first notice the long, forked tail on the soaring white bird with black wings. When you hear their distinctive call make sure you look up! 


This year we observed three to four birds soaring together but we know of only one nest. In recent weeks a juvenile was spotted resting in a pine tree calling out and then taking to the air preparing for the journey south.

Conservation Corner: The Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative

By Jim Howe

The Loxa-Lucie Headwaters Initiative's mission is to conserve, protect and restore water resources in the Loxahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and the natural systems in Martin County, with a primary focus in the Atlantic Ridge Ecosystem.


It will protect one of the largest patches of natural land left on this area. 

By conserving important scrub, pine flatwoods, marshes, and water quality on the St. Lucie River's South Fork's floodplain, as well as the Wild and Historic Loxahatchee River basins, the public will have the opportunity to enjoy the original landscape of this fast-growing area. 

The acquisition and restoration of this land will allow improved hydrology, raising the water table and protecting our invaluable local watersheds. Precise boundaries can be seen on-line


Audubon of Martin County supports this project and we hope you will too!

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