Walk, hike, or bike along the Loop Road and you may
spot a gopher tortoise along the road's edge. Look aloft for
swallow-tailed kites and in the prairies, fields, and along marsh
edges for sandhill cranes.
Numerous shady hammocks are welcome spots to escape
the sun. A quiet observer may spot a white-tailed deer or a group
of wild turkeys.
Wildlife Spotlight: Crested
Although Triple N Ranch is at the northern portion
of its range, Audubon's crested caracara with its distinctive black
crown and crest and large, strongly hooked bill is sometimes seen
on the area. The national symbol of Mexico, the crested caracara is
sometimes referred to as the Mexican eagle or the Mexican buzzard.
The caracara is named for its breeding season call: a rapid
"quick-quick-quick-quick" followed by a drawn-out "querrr" and a
dramatic toss of the head. Caracaras are found from the
Mexican-U.S. Border south to Panama and in isolated populations in
Cuba, Louisiana, and central Florida. Once a common resident in the
prairie region of central Florida, the crested caracara is now
threatened in Florida, primarily as a result of loss of habitat. An
extremely opportunistic feeder, the crested caracara eats both
carrion and living prey. Turtles, eggs, insects, worms, frogs,
fish, and mammals are all part of its diet.