Dinner Island's large acreage and mix of wetlands
and uplands create outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities.
Heron, egret, ibis, roseate spoonbill and wood stork regularly
congregate at ditches and wetlands. Crested caracara and Florida
sandhill cranes are easy to spot in open pastures and prairies.
Watch for the yellow flashes of the eastern meadowlark as it
perches in low shrubs in pastures. Power lines and fence posts
provide convenient perches for kestrels, loggerhead shrikes, hawks
and tree swallows.
Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills in Flight
Listen for screech, barred and barn owls in the
palm and oak hammocks that also host migratory warblers in the
spring and fall. Blue-winged and green-winged teal, Florida mottled
duck and wood duck use the wetlands in the winter.
White-tailed deer and wild turkey prefer woodland
edges or are attracted to clearings such as the dove fields, which
are planted in a mixture of seasonal grasses and seasonal grains.
Swallow-tailed kites are a spring and summer specialty usually
spotted in flight over open areas. Autumn blooms in wetlands and
roadside ditches attract numerous species of butterflies.
Wildlife Highlight: Eastern
The eastern meadowlark provides a bright splash of
color on Florida's open grassy fields and prairies. Scan fence
posts, low bushes or power lines for the adult bird with its yellow
throat, breast and belly, and black "V" across the chest. Or listen
for the sweet, melodious song: a plaintive, clear, descending
The eastern meadowlark breeds throughout eastern
and central North America and in Mexico and parts of Central
America and the Caribbean. This year-round Florida resident is not
a lark, as its name suggests, but is in the same family as
blackbirds and orioles. In size and shape, a perched meadowlark
resembles a starling, but it is quail-like in its explosive
take-off from the ground. Insects make up the bulk of the
meadowlark's diet, but grass and weed seeds are also consumed.
In Florida, breeding takes place from late March
through July. During courtship, the male jumps straight up into the
air to display its bright yellow and black markings. Males often
have two mates at a time. Females build nests on the ground,
weaving fine grasses into surrounding vegetation and often
incorporating a domed canopy of grass into the construction. Many
nests are destroyed each year when cultivated fields are mowed.
Eastern meadowlarks are common on the prairies and
pastures of the Florida peninsula, and are found throughout the
state in suitable open habitat, including croplands and golf
courses. In general, however, scientists have noted gradual
population declines throughout the eastern meadowlark's range,
probably due to habitat loss.