Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

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Alachua Audubon Society
P. O. Box 140464
Gainesville, FL 32614-0464

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Site design by Sarah Fazenbaker.

Last Updated September 11th, 2022, Karen Brown


  1. I have two laurel oak trees in my backyard that hover over my small outdoor patio. Every day for the past two weeks or so I have to get my hose and wash off the bricks and the furniture because there are bird droppings virtually everywhere. These droppings, however, are not like the white droppings I have seen in the past. These droppings are dark (either brown, reddish brown, or even black). Some seem to have what resemble tiny berries. Plus, when I do wash them off, they actually become almost sudsy!
    What in the world is this coming from, how long will it last, and what is the best way to get rid of this problem without having to worry about germs or disease?

    • My best guess is that the poop is from Cedar Waxwings (

      They congregate into flocks here this time of year. You have probably been hearing their high-pitched call. The color likely comes from berries (which is the major part of their diet).

      Unfortunately, they will be around a bit longer before they start migrating out by the beginning of May and should be completely out of here by June (only to start returning in October & November).

  2. My husband and I just moved to Paynes Prairie in April and see many birds.
    What is the best book for us to purchase to identify the birds we see? We have the Stokes book but it is limiting and doesn’t show all the birds we have seen.
    Today, 5/25/2020, we observed a Great Heron, two Great Egrets (a Mac-daddy huge one and I’m guessing the smaller female mate), smaller cattle egrets, the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks (tons of those), the Mr. & Mrs. Sand Hill Crane and their two babies and heard the woodpecker.
    Thanks for the assistance with a reference book.

    • Two of my favorite books are the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America and The Sibley Guide to Birds. Both are available in a coast to coast version as well as east/west coast version.

      To help you learn the birds in this area, I would suggest that you download an app for your smart phone called Merlin developed by the folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This allows you to filter birds that are known to be in the area.

      Good luck and hope you keep finding more birds.

  3. April 16th..During this stay at home interval I have enjoyed watching my birds come to the feeders every day. Today I saw one flitting through the brush I had not seen before and I think is an American Redstart warbler. Beautiful!! Every day I have Cardinals, a pair of Brown Thrasher, Catbird, Tufted Titmouse, House Wren, but my Chickadees have left and so have the Chipping sparrows. Really enjoy bird watching and hopefully see the American Redstart again.

  4. I would like to know your official view on backyard birdbaths. Are they necessary, or even good for birds?. If so, which do you recommend as best? I’m confused by reading different sources.

    • Backyard birdbaths are not strictly necessary, but we’re in favor of them. They provide water and refreshment for your resident back yard birds (and any migrants that might be coming through), and if you place the birdbath where you can see it from your window you can get close looks at the birds that visit your feeder as well as many that don’t, like American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, and migrant warblers. Place the birdbath where it can be seen from the air, but close to a sheltered edge or drooping bough so that the birds won’t feel too exposed. A drip of water into the bath, or a spray – anything that disturbs the surface of the water – is likelier to attract passing birds. And, of course, keep it clean by regularly scrubbing it with a brush and rinsing with water. As to which brand is best, there’s no answer. Don’t get anything deep – an inch or so of water is all you need – but otherwise any kind of shallow dish-like object will work. You can buy a good one (or two) at the local Wild Birds Unlimited, or you can make your own from a plant-pot saucer.

  5. Hi, I’m renting in High Springs and was hoping to be serenaded by the exquisite mockingbird. I’m pleased to hear cardinalis in mockingbird stead. Environment is pine, oak, undergrowth and some grass. There might not be enough grass for their liking.

    Aren’t they around here?

    • I am a happy gal. Within 10 minutes of writing you, I was sung to……best to all you birders.

      • Glad you got your serenade! Nearly all bird song is seasonal. Usually mockingbirds sing in the spring (February through June) and again in the fall (September through October or early November). It’s rare to hear them singing after November, but this bird probably knew how much you wanted to hear it.

        Hope it keeps singing!

  6. To: Rex Rowan

    I would like to talk you about:
    Robert Charles McClanahan, 1913-1943,
    and his Florida bird observations.

    David Bridge
    Smithsonian, retired

  7. is there a charge for the orange lake paddle 12/1 I am not a member and would like to take my 15 y/o grandson we have our own equipment. thank you

    • There is no charge for any of our field trips. You will often see members contributing a dollar or two at the beginning of a field trip, which is just to defray the cost of our insurance, but such donations are voluntary and not expected from field trip participants. We look forward to seeing you on the 1st!

  8. Could you please tell me where in Alachua county, the closest pastures to Gainesville, that I can find Sandhill cranes during the day time this winter, 2019. Also what are the approximate dates that they will migrate down here, winter, and the approximate date they will return north. Thanks.

    • The cranes usually arrive around Thanksgiving and start back north between late January and mid February. The University of Florida’s Beef Teaching Unit at the intersection of SW 23rd Street and Williston Road is the best place to see them close up. Sometimes they don’t show up at the Beef Teaching Unit right away, but they’re generally present by the hundreds from mid-December until their departure.

  9. Live in Cieifland, today driving on 341 north of Chiefland, observed 100s of Swallow-tail kytes flying around… over the trees along the road, over at least 2 large fields… they are one of my favorite birds but the most I have ever seen in one area was maybe 4. Why are they all in one area? What would cause them to gather like that? It was an amazing sight for sure.

    • It’s an amazing sight, but a fairly regular one in some parts of the state. After their young have fledged, they often congregate in big pre-migratory flocks before their departure for South America (which generally takes place in August). When flying insects like dragonflies, beetles, cicadas, and grasshoppers are abundant in a particular place – often an agricultural field or pasture – Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites will form large feeding flocks to take advantage of that aerial food supply. You can follow their seasonal movements on this blog run by the kite biologists at the Avian Research and Conservation Institute:

  10. Hi!
    I help lead an American Heritage Girl troop in Alachua and this fall we are working on a zoology badge. Can you tell me more about the Christmas bird count project? Or other projects young girls could help with?

  11. I have a pr of small birds nesting on protection plate of my upside down weed eater right behind my front door. Three babies inside. I have been able to photograph the parent but can’t find it’s identity in any search I’ve done. Where could I send a picture for identification?

  12. Last 2 mornings I have see a single bird …like a cross between a robin and a morning dove. All gray head and back, robin red breast, swept wings in repose..medium yellow beak… with the kicker…two while eye patches Lone Ranger style except for color. In northwest Gville.

  13. Walking dog into Townsend, NW Gainesville, 31st Ave/23rd Terr, where we saw pelican on retention pond. Watched to see if his behavior was normal? Being there wasn’t. Don’t know if injured, confused or what is someone who knows more wishes to check.

    • Hi, Mr. Roland – I drove by at 2:20 this afternoon and didn’t see a pelican, so I’m guessing that it was a stray from the coast and that it went on its way. Historically, more pelicans have been recorded in Alachua County during April and May than during other months. Most of those have come and gone in a single day.

  14. Hey I have an injured baby bird very very young no vets can help around Gainesville can y’all help? Or take the bird into care?

    • Contact Florida Wildlife Care at (352) 371-4400 or, if you’re ABSOLUTELY sure that it’s not being tended by parent birds, take it to the University of Florida’s veterinary school. They’re the only ones legally authorized to care for wild birds.

  15. Thanks, Irma. I’ll pass this along to the Board of Directors.

  16. Hi,
    I’m Leslie with Seminole Audubon Society and we’re planning a multi-day field trip to the Gainesville area Oct 15-18, 2017. You’ve done a great job listing birding sites on your website! I’ll have to narrow down our choices for a 3 day visit, and would love some help from the locals.
    My initial thoughts are Paynes Prairie, Sweetwater Wetlands and the fall migrants at Newnan’s Lake. (The rest of the group may have to drag me kicking and screaming away from Newnan’s Lake, sounds like a good spot!). Of the birding sites on your list, are there any spots where we would have the option of a local guide?
    Some of us will be camping at Paynes Prairie, the rest staying at their choice of nearby hotel.
    I appreciate any suggestions.

    • Leslie, Paynes Prairie’s La Chua Trail is a good choice, and Sweetwater Wetlands might be good in mid-October (though that’s a bit too early for waterfowl and perhaps a bit late for summer birds like Least Bitterns and Purple Gallinules). For fall migrants, I’d say that Paynes Prairie’s Bolen Bluff Trail has been better than Newnans Lake in recent years. Try contacting us a little closer to time and we might be able to give you more current information.

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