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Prepared under Sub-Contract R00938

Florida Natural Areas Inventory/Florida State University
Natural Community Mapping at Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve
Awarded by Southwest Florida Water Management District
Prime Award Number FSU# 148000-530-022808

Prepared by

Bill Pranty
8515 Village Mill Row
Bayonet Point, Florida 34667
Gary R. Knight
Principal Investigator
Florida Natural Areas Inventory
Florida State University
1018 Thomasville Road, Suite 200C
Tallahassee, Florida 32303

9 September 2008

This report details the methods and results of avian surveys of Green Swamp Wilderness
Preserve during 2008. The surveys were part of a project to map natural communities in the
Preserve by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory. The avian surveys were sub-contracted to Bill
Pranty and Wes Biggs, two experienced field ornithologists who spent 63 survey-days in the
Preserve, from 28 May to 17 August 2008. Biggs surveyed Green Swamp East in Lake, Sumter,
and Polk counties, while Pranty surveyed Green Swamp West wholly in Pasco County.
Discussion of the habitats found in these two parcels of Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve is
beyond the scope of this report, but Green Swamp West is the smaller, drier, and more diverse
tract. Pranty spent two additional days offsite surveying potential primary or secondary habitats
for Florida Scrub-Jays west of Green Swamp West, in the Trilby, Lacoochee, Dade City, and
Zephyrhills areas of Pasco County, on 5 and 8 September 2008.

Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve was divided into two sections and each was surveyed
independently. Pranty surveyed Green Swamp West for 28 days (31 May17 August) while
Biggs surveyed Green Swamp East for 35 days (28 May14 August). Surveys were conducted
largely by two-wheel-drive compact sedans, with some surveys done on foot and others by fourwheel-drive trucks. Biggs used audio-playback to attract some species such as Bachmans
Sparrow, while Pranty did not. We used portable Magellan GPS units to record in UTM
coordinates the locations of all focal species. Because many birds were heard or seen from great
distances (> 100 meters), not all coordinates are precise. All records of focal species, along with
attributes such as the date of occurrence and the age, sex, and number of individuals, are
included in an Excel spreadsheet that accompanies this report.
The original plan was to locate five focal species, four raptors (Swallow-tailed Kite,
Coopers Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, and Southeastern American Kestrel) and Florida Scrub-Jay.
However, the scarcity of most of these species, together with the presence of many other species
of conservation concern, resulted in the addition of many more species. Pranty, Biggs, and Mary
Barnwell of the Southwest Florida Water Management District identified certain guilds of birds
of conservation concern, such as wading birds, raptors, shorebirds, and Neotropical migrants, as
well as several other species that would be geographically significant if located during surveys.
For wading birds, we required that the birds be foraging to be included. Similarly, some raptors
were not included when they observed flying over unsuitable foraging habitats.
The original survey methodology devised by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI)
included a provision to follow the safe-dates used during the Florida Breeding Bird Atlas
project. The bulk of field work was expected be conducted in May and June 2008. However, the
contracts between FNAI and Pranty and Biggs were not executed until 24 May 2008, and
surveys continued into mid-August 2008. Thus, some of the records during our surveys fall
outside the Breeding Bird Atlas safe-dates (Table 1). However, we chose to include all records
obtained during the surveys because, (1) these observations occurred in suitable breeding habitat,
(2) some of these species are permanent residents with little immigration during the fall season,
and (3) only one of the records differed from survey results obtained during the Atlas safedates.

Swiftmud habitat maps show numerous patches of potential primary or secondary habitats for
Florida Scrub-Jays in eastern Pasco County. These polygons were drawn according to soil maps
and predicted habitat characteristics, but none of the sites was ground-truthed. Pranty questioned
the presence of so much potential scrub-jay habitat in the region. Pranty and Barnwell agreed
that visits to all publicly accessible polygons would clarify and improve information about the
potential for Florida Scrub-Jays to move through and/or persist in areas adjacent to Green
Swamp West, as well as within Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve.
TABLE 1. Breeding Bird Atlas Safe-Dates for all focal species recorded in Green Swamp
Wilderness Preserve, 28 May17 August 2008. *All observations of these species are safe.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
*Mottled Duck
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
*Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Swallow-tailed Kite
Coopers Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Southeastern American Kestrel
Florida Sandhill Crane
*Yellow-billed Cuckoo
*Red-headed Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow-throated Vireo
Florida Scrub-Jay
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown Thrasher
Prothonotary Warbler
Summer Tanager
Bachmans Sparrow
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
*Brown-headed Cowbird

1 Apr1 Aug
1 May1 Sep
1 Apr1 Aug
1 May1 Aug
1 Jan1 Aug
1 Mar1 Jul
1 Apr1 Jul
1 May1 Aug
1 Apr1 Jul
1 Feb1 Aug
15 Apr15 Aug
1 May1 Aug
1 Apr1 Aug
15 May1 Aug
1 Mar1 Jul
15 Feb1 Aug
1 Apr1 Aug
15 May1 Aug
1 May1 Aug
1 Apr1 Aug
1 May1 Aug
1 May1 Aug
1 May1 Aug

During 63 field days, Pranty and Biggs recorded 688 locations of 34 focal species, divided into
362 records of 33 species in Green Swamp West and 326 records of 23 species in Green Swamp
East (Table 2). Breeding was confirmed for seven species via observations of dependent young
(fledglings or juveniles); surveys were conducted too late in the breeding season to find active
nests. Had we surveyed only the original four raptors plus Florida Scrub-Jay, we would have
gathered only 62 records (Table 2). A total of 89 avian species was located in Green Swamp
Wilderness Preserve during our surveys (Appendix A).
The following section describes each avian guild and presents brief results for each species.
No waterfowl were originally considered focal, but we added two species. Black-bellied
Whistling-Ducks were found at six sites: five in Green Swamp West (including about 12 birds
at Dobes Hole) and one site along County Road 471 at the Withlacoochee River bridge, where
two whistling-ducks flew from Green Swamp East into Green Swamp West. These observations
likely represent the first for the Preserve. The only Mottled Ducks found were about 8 at Dobes
Hole. Numbers of Wood Ducks were not recorded, but they were found rather commonly,
including about 40 at Dobes Hole.
Wading Birds
No wading birds were originally considered focal, but we added all species except the terrestrial
Cattle Egret when observed foraging. (Wading birds seen roosting or in flight were not
recorded). Relatively few (46) records were obtained, although the diversity of 11 focal species
was good: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored
Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, and the two
listed below. The scarcity of records probably was the result of the severe drought during the
survey period; many wetlands were completely dry. Most counts of wading birds in Green
Swamp West were of one or two birds, and the highest count of any species was only five. Four
Roseate Spoonbills and two Yellow-crowned Night-Herons at Dobes Hole were locally
Originally four species were considered focal, but we later added all species except those
observed in flight over unsuitable habitats (e.g., one Osprey over sandhill in Green Swamp
West). Despite their increase in urban and suburban areas in central Florida, surprisingly few
Coopers Hawks were found in the Green Swamponly four records, all of singlesand all
were in Green Swamp East. Also rare was the Southeastern race of the American Kestrel, with
two records of singles in Green Swamp East, and one recordpossibly of a northern migrant
in Green Swamp West on 3 August 2008. Nearly all of the pasture areas remaining in Green
Swamp West are heavily overgrown with tall grasses and shrubs, and this condition likely
prevents kestrels was using the areas, despite the abundance of arthropod prey. Swallow-tailed

Kites were rather widespread, with 50 records, mostly in Green Swamp West. Several
observations were of family groups. Most significant was the discovery of a roost of 35 kites
along the eastern shore of Dobes Hole on 9 July 2008. There were few observations of Shorttailed Hawks: four in Green Swamp East and two in the west. All but one bird were dark
morphs; one light morph was foraging over a pasture restoration area in Green Swamp West on 4
August 2008. Two other raptors were eventually added as focal species, in part to get relative
abundances among all raptors in the Green Swamp. As expected, Red-shouldered Hawks were
widespread and common, with 234 records, by far the most frequently-encountered focal species
during our surveys. Several fledglings or juveniles were observed. Red-tailed Hawks were
uncommon, with 15 records, some of these of juveniles. No Bald Eagles were observed,
probably because of the seasonality of the surveys.
Two species were added after the survey began and another (Purple Gallinule) was sought but
not found. Three Limpkins were found, all singles in Green Swamp West. Sandhill Cranes of
the resident race were also scarce, with just eight records. No colts were observed, probably
another result of the drought.
We decided to record any migratory shorebird encountered. However, none was found, probably
related to drought conditions and the relative scarcity of shorebirds moving through Florida
during June and July. Still, the complete lack of migrant shorebirds was rather surprising. Very
few Killdeer, a non-focal species, were found.
Originally, the Florida Scrub-Jay was the only landbird to be surveyed but many other species
were added subsequently. Some are permanent residents of central Florida while others are
Neotropical migrants that breed in Florida and winter in the West Indies, Middle America, or
South America. All of the landbirds included here are declining due to habitat loss, and many are
species of conservation concern. Yellow-billed Cuckoos were the second most-frequently
recorded focal species, with 74 records. Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve undoubtedly
supports many hundreds of breeding pairs of this Neotropical migrant. The resident Red-headed
Woodpecker was rare, with only three records, all in Green Swamp West. They are found in
sandhill, pine flatwoods, and open areas with scattered snags. Hairy Woodpeckers are another
rare, local, and declining resident of central Florida. The five records in the Green Swamp (along
with four other observations of foraging signextensive removal of bark from the trunk and
main branches of recently-killed pines) were limited to pine habitats. Despite the scarcity of
records, the extensive areas of fire-maintained flatwoods and sandhills of Green Swamp
Wilderness Preserve probably support a viable population. No Red-cockaded Woodpeckers
were found, nor are any known to occur in Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. Yellow-throated
Vireos are an uncommon Neotropical migrant that breed as far south as Pasco, Polk, and Orange
counties. Despite being at the very southern edge of their breeding range, they were fairly

widespread in oak hammocks and sandhill habitats in the Green Swamp, with 25 records about
equally distributed between east and west.
Only one Florida Scrub-Jay was found, along Rhinesmith Road 0.2 miles north of
Hogback Ridge Road in Green Swamp West. The site was visited three times (16 June, 24 July,
and 17 August) and only one scrub-jay was each time. Its behavior, of alternating foraging bouts
with periods of being on sentinel, suggested that it was alone. The patches of scrub occupied by
the scrub-jay were in fair to excellent condition, with some patches having been burned in recent
years. All of the other xeric oak scrub sites in Green Swamp West are small, and most are
heavily overgrown and surrounded by densely-forested areas that hamper scrub-jay dispersal. As
a pinewoods specialist, there were far more records of Brown-headed Nuthatches in Green
Swamp East (21) than there were in Green Swamp West (four records) because of the greater
extent of flatwoods. Despite their wide range in North America, Brown Thrashers were chosen
as a focal species because of concerns that some populations are declining. They are rather rare
in the Green Swamp, with only 16 records.
Prothonotary Warblers are Neotropical migrants that breed sparingly into southern
Florida. They are rather rare in the Green Swamp, with most of the records (8 of 10) in Green
Swamp East. Summer Tanagers, another Neotropical migrant, were the fourth most-abundant
focal species, with 52 records. They are fairly common breeders in flatwoods, sandhills, and oak
hammocks throughout Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. Bachmans Sparrows are nonmigratory residents of pine flatwoods and dry prairie habitats in Florida. They are fairly common
in the Green Swamp, especially Green Swamp East, which accounts for 38 of the 54 records
gathered. Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings are Neotropical migrants that breed locally into
central Florida. Both species are uncommon to fairly common breeders in pine plantations or old
fields in the Green Swamp. Nearly all the grosbeaks (20 of 21 records) and most of the buntings
(15 of 24 records) were in Green Swamp West, where there is a greater extent of disturbed,
upland habitats. Brown-headed Cowbirds are brood parasites of other birds, and have been
implicated in population declines of several species, including some in Florida. They were
selected as a focal species to gauge their potential affect on other breeding species in the Green
Swamp. Only two cowbirds were found during surveys, both in Green Swamp West. One of
these records involved a cowbird being chased by a Red-winged Blackbird, a frequent cowbird
host. Clearly, brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds is not a management concern in
Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve.

TABLE 2. Focal Species observed during surveys of Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, 28
May17 August 2008. Numbers refer to the number of records, not individual birds observed.
Repeated observations of the same individuals are not included. *Breeding confirmed via
observations of dependent young.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Mottled Duck
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
*Swallow-tailed Kite
Coopers Hawk
*Red-shouldered Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
*Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Sandhill Crane
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Red-headed Woodpecker
*Hairy Woodpecker
*Yellow-throated Vireo
Florida Scrub-Jay
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown Thrasher
Prothonotary Warbler
*Summer Tanager
*Bachmans Sparrow
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Brown-headed Cowbird
Total Focal Species
Total Focal Records




Possible migrant
** Foraging sign of Hairy Woodpeckers was noted at four sites in Green Swamp West

Off-Site Surveys of Potential Florida Scrub-Jay Habitats

Pranty surveyed about 89 polygons identified as potentially providing primary or secondary
habitats for Florida Scrub-Jays in eastern Pasco County, from Trilby and Lacoochee in the north
to Zephyrhills in the south. These polygons represented all of those that could be accessed from,
or were at least visible from, public roadways. The 89 polygons surveyed represent a large
majority of all polygons identified. Nearly all of these polygons represented oak hammocks or
large live oaks growing in pastures with solely a grassy understory. Many of these areas were
partially developed, with homes or trailers among the oaks, and where the possibility of their
restoration to suitable scrub-jay habitat is not possible. A few polygons were entirely pasture or
other fields that completely lacked oaks, and one or two others were pine plantations or citrus
groves. Only one of the 89 habitat polygons visited contained xeric oak scrub: a small, partiallydeveloped patch at the northwest corner of Duck Lake Canal Road and Beury Lane, southeast of
Dade City and about one mile from the western border of Green Swamp West.
The near-total lack of suitable scrub-jay habitat in eastern Pasco County means that there
is little or no possibility of dispersal between the Florida Scrub-Jays in central Pasco County
(those occupying Al-Bar Ranch, 4-G Ranch, Pruitt Ranch, and Barthle Brothers Ranch) and
those in the Green Swamp. Population modeling has revealed that a minimum of 40 scrub-jay
families living within 2 km of each other is needed to assure long-term (99-year) persistence of a
population. With few or no known scrub-jay families known to occur within typical dispersal
distance (12 km) of Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve, the future of Florida Scrub-Jays in the
Wilderness Preserve is unsustainable in the long-term, and extremely tenuous even in the very
short-term. Nonetheless, restoration of additional patches of xeric oak scrub in Green Swamp
West should be undertaken, using mechanical means followed by prescribed fire, to improve the
chances for short-term persistence of Florida Scrub-Jays in Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve.
The Swallow-tailed Kite roost discovered at Dobes Hole in Green Swamp West is within onequarter mile of private property to the north and one-half mile to the west. Although there was no
sign of disturbance of this roost, the Southwest Florida Water Management District should
investigate the possibility of purchasing lands north and west of Dobes Hole to better secure the
area. Furthermore, the roost should be surveyed in 2009 to determine whether it is still active.
Avian surveys of Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve 28 May17 August 2008 located 688
records of 34 species of birds considered to be of conservation concern. Green Swamp West,
which contains a greater diversity of habitats, supported most of the focal species encountered.
Pranty and Biggs thank Mary Barnwell, Paul Elliott, and other staff of the Southwest Florida
Water Management District for providing maps and for assistance in the field (including
extricating our vehicles from sand or mud). Pranty thanks Biggs for surveying Green Swamp
East, and Brian Ahern and Eva Dupuis for other field assistance.

APPENDIX A: All 89 avian species encountered during surveys of Green Swamp

Wilderness Preserve, 28 May17 August 2008. *First Pasco County record; photographed.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula)
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
Little Blue Heron (Egretta cerulea)
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
Coopers Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Short-tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Chuck-wills-widow (Caprimulgus carolinensis)
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinensis)

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
*Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)
Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)
Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)
Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons)
Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma caerulescens)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)
Purple Martin (Progne subis)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
Northern Parula (Parula americana)
Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica)
Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor)
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)
Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina)
Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)
Bachmans Sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis)
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major)
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)