Babcock-Webb is an important area for the eastern bluebird.
Photo Credit: David Moynahan.
A birding hot spot in southwest Florida, Babcock/Webb is home to numerous resident and migratory, birds including the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, wood stork, wild turkey, Bachman’s sparrow, burrowing owl and brown-headed nuthatch. A variety of warblers are common during the winter. This area is a stronghold of the eastern bluebird and many other birds whose habitat has been lost to development. Babcock-Webb’s open stands of slash pine flatwoods are home to colonies of the federally listed endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Their cavity trees are marked with a white-painted ring. Other highlights of this property include American and least bitterns, king rail, sedge wren and many more.
The Sherman’s fox squirrel, a state listed species of special concern, has been observed on this area. Northern bobwhite quail, eastern cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels, raccoons, white-tailed deer and feral hogs are common inhabitants of the flatwoods. Wading birds regularly forage in wet prairies and marshes.
A good place to look for wood storks, egrets and herons of various types, as well as alligators, is in the canal along the Seaboard Grade. Sandhill cranes are frequently found in the field west of the shooting range.
Wildlife Spotlight: Florida Bonneted Bat
The "bonneted" bat gets its name from the large ears that slant over its eyes.
Photo Credit: © MerlinTuttle.org
The extremely rare Florida bonneted bat (Eumops floridanus), listed as endangered by the FWC, is one of the rarest mammals in North America. This bat is distinguished by its large size (4.9 inches to 6.5 inches) and unusual ears. It roosts in palms, tree cavities and buildings, and forages for insects high in the air.
A natural roost was documented in 1979 on or near Babcock-Webb WMA and another was documented in 2015. FWC installed bat houses on Babcock-Webb in 2007 and Florida bonneted bats were documented in the houses in 2008. Since that date, the species continues to roost in multiple bat houses. Florida bonneted bats are monitored on the area during evening emergence counts, conducted at least four times each year.
Utilizing recent audio recordings throughout the WMA has provided evidence of its continued existence on the area and in several south Florida counties. Currently, GPS technology and other methods are being used to examine its habitat use and food habits.