FWF member, Diane Haddick, is a native Floridian who moved in the 1970s to the Washington, DC area to pursue graduate studies. Unfortunately (to us) she elected to stay in that region, but we are grateful that she retains her love for the wild Florida of yore and its inhabitants, and that she acts to preserve these treasures. Some months ago, she indicated her interest in sponsoring a number (currently four) of our FWF wood duck nesting boxes and requested that they be placed in appropriate sites of our choosing.
Following a telephone conversation with Bob Taylor, she agreed that the Dead River which flows from Lake Russell in the Disney Wilderness Preserve into Lakes Hatchineha and Cypress would be perfect for these boxes. This stream, which is part of the upper Kissimmee chain of lakes as it existed prior to the canal building actions of Hamilton Disston, meanders through many acres of cypress swamp and marshland much of which is now managed by the South Florida Water Management District (SFMD). It retains most of its earlier charm and is ideal wood duck habitat.
Unfortunately, extremely low water levels and excessive amounts of hydrilla, blocked our first attempt to install these nesting boxes. Bob’s skiff bogged down completely and water levels at that time were even too low for the airboat which SFMD latter agreed to supply. Finally, in August summer rains raised the water level. Ayounga Reddick and Vincent Matera, land managers at SFMD, with their airboat transported three nest boxes, the necessary tools and our FWF crew to a perfect site near where our late colleague, Richard Coleman, had been killed in a tragic airboat accident in 2003. The crew consisted of Richard’s widow, Frances Howell Coleman, his son-in-law, Ben Selser, and Bob Taylor
FWF is grateful to Diane Haddick for sponsoring these boxes and to SFMD and to its land managers, Ayounga Reddick and Vincent Matera, for making it possible to install these boxes. They plan to install predator shields and will see that these nests are appropriately monitored.
Ayounga also told me that this part of the “northern everglades” contains many dozens of excellent sites for additional nesting boxes and that they would be glad to help in their installation should others, like Diane Haddick, wish to sponsor them.
Dr. Bob Taylor, District V Director for the Florida Wildlife Federation, builds the nest boxes in his shop in Lake Hamilton, Florida, with the help of his dedicated volunteers. The Federation covers the cost of the lumber and Dr. Bob provides his workshop and services free of charge as his way of raising funds for the organization. To purchase a nest box and make a donation to the Florida Wildlife Federation, please visit the website: www.fwfonline.org, and click the photo in upper right corner to go to further information and an order form. The nest box will be shipped to you directly from Dr. Bob’s workshop, or you can ask him to place a nest box in an appropriate location at one of the many lakes in Central Florida. (To send him an email, please write to: email@example.com.)