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Posts tagged ‘animals’

An Everglades Valentine’s Wish

Where there is love there is life. -Mahatma Gandhi

Wishing you all a very happy Valentine’s Day from the Everglades critters!

Mating Viceroy Butterflies (Limenitis archippus), Fern Forest Nature Center, Florida

Mating Viceroy Butterflies (Limenitis archippus), Fern Forest Nature Center

It doesn’t take much to find love on an excursion into the natural world, where it surrounds us at every moment — which is why I escape to it as much as possible. It’s a beautiful reminder.

Breeding Great Egrets Building Their Nest, Florida Wetlands

The boys hunt for, and bring the best sticks to build the new nest: Breeding Great Egrets Building Their Nest in the Florida Wetlands

Alligator Pair in the Florida Everglades

Perfect headrest: Alligator Pair in the Florida Everglades. Recent studies have shown that up to 70 percent of alligator females remained with their partner — often for many years.

Alligator Pair in the Florida Everglades

Alligator Pair During Mating Season in the SWA Trail Network of Grassy Waters Preserve, West Palm Beach

Great Blue Heron Mating Pair at their Nest in the Florida Wetlands

Monogamous (at least during the breeding season!) Great Blue Heron Mating Pair at Their Nest in the Florida Wetlands

Great Blue Heron Mating Pair at their Nest in the Florida Wetlands

CUDDLES: Great Blue Heron Mating Pair at their Nest in the Florida Wetlands

Heart Tree at Fern Forest Nature Center, Broward County, Florida

Heart Tree Sends its Love at the Fern Forest Nature Center

It’s Florida Week for the Animals: February 15-23, 2014!

Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission — to be of service to them wherever they require it. —St. Francis of Assisi

Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives. —Dr. Albert Schweitzer

When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul. —A.D. Williams

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. ―Martin Luther King, Jr.


My little Sara, AKA “Criminal,” stalking another one of my rescues. One year later, she’s a far different soul than the one I pulled off the streets.

It’s been so long since my last post, I feel like I’m re-learning WordPress. Fortunately I’ve kept up with the amazing words, art, and images of all of you. The scope of talent, and the depth of support, continues to take my breath away.

February 15-23 is the 6th Annual Florida Week for the Animals! Check out their Calendar of Events to see what’s happening throughout the state. From the website:

Throughout the week, educational institutions, animal shelters, rescue groups, and humane organizations across the state will be hosting scores of wonderful animal-related special events. Educators, students, businesses and caring citizens across Florida will be joining in, creating and planning their exciting activities to celebrate and help animals. Events will include adoption fairs, spay/neuter events, shelter volunteer and beautification days, programs in libraries, walks for the farm animals and therapy dogs visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Also to be included are a salute to our canine military and police dogs, cat initiatives, educational programs, blessings of the animals, and fun-filled festival days for families to come and enjoy food, music and the always amazing animals!

Alligator, Grassy Waters Preserve, West Palm Beach, Florida

Not to forget our wildlife: Florida’s beautiful but misunderstood alligators (here at Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach)

Help speak up for the innocent and voiceless of our state, this week and every day. It doesn’t take much. And be sure to visit the links to the right, under “Florida Nature Blogs.” Blogs like janthina images, Walking with Alligators, naturetime, and Our Florida Journal showcase and highlight the plight of our area’s most unique and beautiful creatures.

TNR Cat, and Abandoned Neighborhood Florida Feline

One of the neighborhood kitties I’ve TNR’d (Trapped-Neutered-Released), with the help of some amazing organizations. Here, “Momma” sits on my car (immediately upon my arrival), waiting for…love? OK, food.

Hawk, Grassy Waters Preserve, West Palm Beach, Florida

Always keep an eye on our feathered friends: This guy’s happy at home in the wild (within the SWA Trail network in West Palm Beach), but many require our assistance as we continue to breach their world

Peek-a-Boo, I See You!

“We cannot live without the Earth or apart from it, and something is shrivelled in a man’s heart when he turns away from it and concerns himself only with the affairs of men.”  ―Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Cross Creek

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

On August 8, 1896, one of Florida’s greatest novelists and conservationists was born: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Although she grew up in Washington D.C., Rawlings settled in rural Florida, writing about the land and people of her surroundings. Her works included the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Yearling, and Cross Creek, an autobiographical account of life in her beloved Florida — she loved her hammocks. Happy birthday, Marjorie!

Flatwoods of Cypress Creek Natural Area, Jupiter, Florida

One of my favorite spots, the flatwoods of Cypress Creek Natural Area

A warm, long-overdue hullllo and peek-a-boo from the depths of South Florida, to the blogging world — I’ve missed you all so!

Juvenile Alligator, Grassy Waters Preserve, Florida

Nearly stumbling about this sweet juvenile gator in Grassy Waters Preserve. Hullo, fella!

Cantankerous Puffs of Adorable

Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. —John Muir

We’re finally getting drenched with some much-needed rains in South Florida — the swamps and Everglades are thrilled, I’m sure of it. Last Monday alone, we received ten inches from the sky… TEN INCHES. That kind of downpour creates flash flooding, and the accompanying high winds (and lovely lightning) can wreak havoc on birds’ nests.

During a quick visit to the wetlands between the raindrops, it was obvious that there was much repair to the nests being done throughout the preserve. As I was blankly staring at a turtle (I love our turtles), I caught some commotion deep within a Pond apple tree, one that’s been an annual home to nesting Green herons. Mom had just returned with branches to repair the nest, and her little ones were obviously expecting food — and visibly unhappy about the sticks over the food.

Baby Green Heron in Pond Apple Tree, Florida Wetlands

On the lookout for mom

All babies are sweet, but Green heron babies are little cantankerous puffs of adorable.

Baby Green Heron in Pond Apple Tree, Florida Wetlands

She’s not that way, either…

And back she flew to the wetlands, to high commotion, for more nest-building materials. So much work to be done; babies still needed their food….

Baby Green Heron and Mother in Pond Apple Tree, Florida Wetlands

Honestly, mother.

[For all you locals: If you’re as fascinated by the area’s water cycle and flow as I am, check out Go Hydrology in my “Florida Nature Blogs” to the right — fantastic daily updates and general information!]

The Butterfly of Doom

Or so it was named by the late 19th-century Russians — leave it to them to label a butterfly as such. It’s definitely the first time I’ve ever heard Butterfly and Doom used in the same phrase; there has to be heavy-metal band with this name out there somewhere.

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), Florida Everglades

A Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) rests in the Florida Everglades

Zebra Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius charitonius)

Florida’s abundant all-year blooms provide enough butterfly chasing, even for me. The most common encounter is the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius), found throughout the hardwood hammocks, swamps, and Everglades — and designated the official state butterfly of Florida.

Found in North America, Asia, and Europe, territorial male Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) can be found in the same location day-to-day — and as a testament, the images below were shot on separate days, in the same clump of foliage. Red Admirals are dark brown, with brick-red bars and white markings on the tips of the forewings. Although known to be quick fliers, they’re considered a perfect companion for gardens, being very people-friendly, and known to perch on humans.

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), Florida Wetlands

The Butterfly of Doom terrifies all

The Red Admiral is considered the favorite butterfly of author and amateur lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov (1899 – 1977); it’s mentioned throughout his writings, taking a prominent role in the 1962 novel Pale Fire. When scholar Alfred Appel, Jr. asked why he was so fond of Vanessa atalanta, Nabokov replied: “Its coloring is quite splendid and I liked it very much in my youth. Great numbers of them migrated from Africa to Northern Russia, where it was called ‘The Butterfly of Doom’ because it first appeared in 1881, the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and the markings on the underside of its two hind wings seem to read ‘1881’. There is something interesting in the Red Admirable’s ability to travel so far” (Strong Opinions, p. 170).

According to Pale Fire‘s character — poet John Shade — the original Old English name for the butterfly was actually Red Admirable, which was later degraded to The Red Admiral. In the novel, Vanessa atalanta appears as Shade’s heraldic butterfly, as seen in the verses:

Come and be worshiped, come and be caressed,
My dark Vanessa, crimson-barred, my blest
My Admirable butterfly… (lines 269–271, p. 42–43)

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), Florida Wetlands

Nabokov’s favorite in the Florida wetlands

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta), Florida Wetlands

A Red Admirable kindly displaying for the butterfly-chaser

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