With its mixture of uplands and aquatic habitats, Box-R attracts diverse and abundant resident and migratory wildlife. Expect rails, shorebirds and wading birds in the tidal marshes, while surrounding pine uplands host brown-headed nuthatches, eastern towhees, pine warblers, red-bellied, downy and pileated woodpeckers, southeastern American kestrels and Bachman’s sparrows. Bald eagles, ospreys, and swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites are common in the area.
During spring and fall migrations, check for neo-tropical songbirds in the hammocks and bottomland hardwoods. Wood ducks (and other waterfowl), red-shouldered hawks, barred owls, Acadian flycatchers, as well as northern parula and Swainson’s, prothonotary, yellow-throated and hooded warblers favor floodplain swamp habitats.
Boaters may spot alligators, otters and a variety of turtle species. Box-R’s uplands are home to white-tailed deer, wild turkey, feral hog, raccoon and opossum.
Wildlife Spotlight: Mourning Dove
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Mourning Dove
The mourning dove, the most widespread and abundant game bird in North America, is found from southern Canada, throughout the United States to Central America and the Caribbean. Throughout its range, the mourning dove prefers open habitats, such as open woods, deserts and forest edges, and has adapted well to cities and suburbs, pastures, cultivated fields and other altered landscapes. In Florida, the species is commonly spotted year-round on backyard bird feeders and in a wide variety of habitat types. The population increases in the winter with the influx of northern birds.
The mourning dove has a small head, a gray-brown body, and a long, pointed tail with white outer edges. Overall, it has a distinctive streamlined silhouette. Its common name refers to its characteristic mournful hooting song. The mourning dove is a seed eater and feeds mostly on the ground. When nesting, females lay two eggs in a flimsy nest built of twigs, pine needles or grass stems placed on a horizontal branch of a tree or shrub. Several broods are raised each season. Mourning doves are attentive parents, incubating the eggs in shifts so that they are rarely unattended.
Other members of the pigeon and dove family native to Florida include the rare white-crowned pigeon and the small and stocky common ground-dove. The white-winged dove, Eurasian collared-dove, rock dove (the familiar "city pigeon"), and ringed turtle-dove are non-natives found in Florida. The Eurasian collared-dove has spread throughout Florida and is rapidly colonizing North America. This introduced species is slightly larger and heavier than the mourning dove and has a distinct black line, or collar, across the back of its neck.