Punta Gorda Chamber Guide 2022

Punta Gorda Chamber Guide 2022

2022 Members and Visitors Guide for the Punta Gorda Area

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Page 87 of 143

Page 88 2022 Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce Members & Visitors Guide ANIMALS/WILDLIFE S outhwest Florida is home to lots of different animals you might see in your backyard, on the beach or while hiking. Here are a few. BALD EAGLES Only Alaska has more bald eagle nesting territories than Florida. Eagles mate for life, but if a mate dies, they often seek another. Each year, eagles court anew, using a magnifi cent sky dance. In Florida, one to three eaglets hatch in late December or early January. Initially the male fi shes, and the mother tears the fi sh into tiny morsels for her babies to swallow. BURROWING OWLS Burrowing owls like to nest in vacant residential lots, parks and airports. These small but stately owls, with large yellow (or black) eyes, only weigh fi ve ounces and stand about 7 to 10 inches tall. Unlike burrowing owls out west, our Florida owls do not migrate. Burrowing owls mate for life, and spend much time rubbing bills and preening one another. During courtship, males call and offer food to females. They are protected animals in this state. SWALLOW-TAIL KITES Swallow-tailed kites do almost everything on the wing: They eat, they drink, they bathe, and they travel long distances. Considered the most aerodynamic of birds, kites are fascinating to watch as they swoop down to sip water or catch dragonfl ies. As one of Florida's fi rst signs of spring, swallow-tailed kites can be spotted in late February or mid March when they come to breed. SANDHILL CRANES With their long legs and necks, these gray birds with crimson-capped heads stand up to 4 feet tall, and have a large wingspan ranging from 5.5 – 7.5 feet. Males are slightly larger than females, but otherwise look identical.The have wild, rattling trumpet calls. They mate for life and share parenting duties. GOPHER TORTOISE The gopher tortoise, the Florida state tortoise, is one of the oldest living species, originating from a group of tortoises that lived here 60 million years ago. The gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus, used to be well-established but has declined 80 percent over the last hundred years, and is now listed as threatened. These slow-moving vegetarians live 40-80 years. MANATEES West Indian manatees are usually easy to see in and around Charlotte County during the summer when water temperatures are warmer. But come winter, because they cannot tolerate water temperatures cooler than 68°F, they seek warmer waters. During the winter, you can see them at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, the Manatee Viewing Center at Apollo Beach and Manatee Park in Fort Myers. When observing manatees, especially by boat, whether a powerboat or kayak, respect their space. Do not feed them, do not touch them, avoid approaching or surrounding manatees and back away and observe from a distance. SEA TURTLES More than 100,000 threatened and endangered sea turtles nest on Florida beaches every summer, including those in Southwest Florida. Nesting season is from March through October. Some parks and environmental groups organize nighttime sea turtle walks in June and July. The turtles that nest on our beaches include loggerheads, leatherbacks and green turtles. ALLIGATORS Alligators have inhabited Florida's marshes, swamps, rivers and lakes for many centuries, and are found in all 67 counties. In recent years, Florida has experienced tremendous human population growth. Many residents seek waterfront homes, and increasingly participate in water-related activities. This can result in more frequent alligator-human interactions, and a greater potential for confl ict. Serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida, but if you are concerned about an alligator, call FWC's toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. The FWC will dispatch one of its contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation. Sharing the area with local wildlife Sun fi le photo Crane watching second chick hatch.

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