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GREAT EGRET

It is breeding season and one of the great egrets in this photo has just landed with a stick to add to the nest.

The long plumes extending beyond the tail are only present during breeding season, usually February through July.
Great egrets are mostly found wading slowly in shallow waters and marshes though much of Florida, sometimes foraging in nearby upland habitats. The diet consists mainly of fishes, amphibians, snakes, snails crustaceans, insects and small mammals. A year-round resident of Florida and many other coastal areas of the Americas, extending inland through the southeastern coastal plain and up the Mississippi River during breeding season. Can be seen in other parts of the United States and into southern Canada in the warmer months.
With the exception of the great blue heron white morph, Ardea alba is the largest of the white herons.



BLOODROOT

Bloodroot ranges throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, but in Florida it is only found in the panhandle and the extreme northern part of the state.

Its habitat is slope forests, bluffs and calcareous hammocks.
Sanguinaria canadensis usually has one leaf and one flower, each on separate stems. The white flowers typically have eight petals, but can have up to twice that many. Growing as tall as 10-12 inches, it is usually much shorter at flowering time.
This photo is looking down into a partially open flower at Bartram's Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



WHITE IBIS

A common wading bird throughout Florida, where it is most populous.

The breeding range extends along the southeastern coast west to Louisiana and northeast into the carolinas. During the summer months, white ibis extend inland throughout much of the coastal plain. They are also found throughout the Caribean, both coasts of Mexico and as far south as Columbia and Venezuela.
Eudocimus albus has a distinctive red curved bill an long red legs. ll white at maturity except for black wingtips. Immature birds are dark brownish with white belly and rump, looking similar to a tri-colored heron except for the bill. Adults are 55-68 cm (~22-27 in.) long with a wingspan of about a meter (~39 in.).
This photograph was taken at Merrit Island National Wildlife Rufuge during the Space Coast Birding Festival in January. White ibis is listed as a Florida Species of Special Concern due to loss of colony sites and wetlands foraging areas.



CAROLINA YELLOWEYED GRASS

A common plant of flatwoods, sandhills and scrub throughout almost all of Florida.

The range includes the southeastern and mid-Atlantic coastal states from Texas to New Jersey, plus Puerto Rico.
The nearly two dozen species of Xyris that occur in Florida can be challenging to identify, requiring botanical skill and the use of a technical key. X. caroliniana is the only species in Florida with white petals, making identification easy.
The three-petaled white flowers appear on a conelike head at the end of a smooth twisted scape to 71 mm (28 in) tall. Of the three sepals, two are keel-shaped and one is membranous. Three fertile stamens alternate with three brush-like staminoides. Carolina yellow-eyed grass has narrow (up to 4mm wide) leaves that are shorter than the scape , usually 20-60 cm (-24 in.) long.



YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON

Yellow-crowned night herons are mostly nocturnal feeders, but can sometimes be seen in the mornings or before dusk searching for their favorite meal of crabs or crayfish.

These wading birds are found throughout Florida and along the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico year round. Nyctanassa violacea range in wetlands throughout the southeastern United States in the spring and summer breeding season, and occassionally north to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Yellow-crowned night herons are very similar to an extinct species, the Bermuda night heron, recently described from fossil research and early historical records. Nyctanassa carcinocatactes had a shorter and thicker bill, more massive cranium, and more robust hindlimbs, all possible adaptations to feeding on land crabs. Apparently the Bermuda night herons became extinct following human colonization of Bermuda.
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EASTERN FRINGED CATCHFLY

This rare flower occurs in the Florida panhandle near the upper Apalachicola River and Lake Seminole. Silene catesbaei is also found in the Flint and Ocmulgee River drainages in the lower Piedmont Plateau of west-central Georgia and extreme southwestern Georgia near Lake Seminole. The habitat is usually mid to lower areas of hardwood slope forests and stream terraces. Also known as fringed pink, it is listed as endangered by the United States, Florida and Georgia.

A perennial herb that spreads by runners rooting at nodes, with only the flowering stems held erect. The five deeply fringed petals are bright pink when fresh, sometimes fading to a lighter shade. When not in bloom, eastern fringed catchfly can be identified by the hairy winged leafstalks.
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